Wyrmshadow: The Night Sword - Session Eleven
With Edwyn’s fate weighing heavily on their minds, but Kasai’s physical condition failing at an alarming rate, the heroes pressed on to find the next Soul Shard. Grail conjectured that the search for the Soul Shard may yield more information about the location of Edwyn, so they should not give up hope for his rescue yet. The thought of his soul being torturously scoured in an arduous Runometric ritual turned their stomachs. The strain of these concerns took a tremendous toll on Caenus, who had surreptitiously left the party to reconnoiter their newfound surroundings. His impassioned howling could be heard a great distance away from the riverfront village in which they had emerged through the portal. It was before the waking hours of morning, and the sound of his anguish over Edwyn’s fate must have played upon the villagers’ ears just as those of the party.
They had appeared in the Shidi Ma village of Tsubasa in the Prefecture of Madou, far from Kasai’s home in the north or even Garou’s temporary refuge in the village of Kaoru further west. However, the familiarity of this place led Garou and Kasai to request a private moment, leaving Regult and Grail to explore the village and try to determine where the next Soul Shard might be located. However, what they discovered instead was the silent approach of a large force of ninja coming from the Naraku Forest in the southwest. Garou and Kasai also noticed the approaching ninja, rejoining Regult and Grail. These ninja were from a clan loyal to the Shi Dynasty, the current ruling family of Shidi Ma. Garou remembered his adoptive village being protected from barbarian invaders by this same clan. However, the manner of their approach indicated that these ninja were operating in an official capacity. Suddenly, buildings within the village began to explode, and the heroes found themselves in the middle of a chaotic scenario.
From within the village’s buildings burst scores of undead, their eyes aglow with infernal power. The ninja swept from the trees surrounding the village to combat these undead, and the party felt obliged to join in the melee. The battle was ferocious, especially with the inclusion of three zombie leaders dressed as demonic samurai, called Onimusha. In joining the ninja against the undead forces, Garou and Kasai were able to speak with some of the ninja and find out what was going on. Apparently, the Emperor of the Shi Dynasty was deposed by his Shogun, Shikaga Saitou, who was an demon in disguise. This demon, with the use of a fiendish dragon called Oninaga, had caused the Emperor and those loyal to him to flee into the countryside, leaving the capital city of Kouten and its surrounding areas vulnerable to mass transformations into fiendish undead. This ninja clan had joined several others loyal to the Shi Dynasty in making a concentrated assault on Kouten. The demons must have caught wind of their plans, however, and set up this ambush in the doomed village of Tsubasa to halt their progress into the city.
The demons were not, however, counting on our heroes and the aid they would provide to the ninja, and soon they prevailed over the undead ambush in Tsubasa. Caenus had returned during the final moments of the skirmish, reporting that there was a massive column of smoke rising from the center of the city in the north. The rest of the loyalists had made it through as well, and the final battle had begun of what would later be known as the Oni-no-teishoku, the Demon Conflict.
Once within the city itself, the heroes were confronted with the dragon Oninaga, a massive gray-skinned dragon with bright glowing eyes red as the setting sun. The party decided to remain and keep the dragon busy while the rest of the ninja went ahead to topple Saigou himself, realizing that the dragon was the largest of the two threats. During the battle, Regult, Grail, and Garou unleashed their triple-tech assault, Regult creating a fissure in the earth beneath the dragon’s feet, Grail causing an oppressive wave of holy light to hammer the dragon toward the fissure, and Garou creating a vortex of wind so strong that slivers of the shattered earth spiraled like thousands of spears toward its body. The holy light, combined with the intense physical onslaught of their combined element breaks, caused the demon controlling the dragon to separate and flee, leaving the dragon free of its clutches. Now imprisoned within a cage of earth-formed claws, this dragon, calling itself Onaga, pleaded for the chance at revenge against these demons who dared to use his body against the good and noble Shi Dynasty. As Regult released him, he pledged loyalty to the Martok bloodline and flew off into the center of the city. Moments later, the battle ended when the dragon Onaga buried the demon lord Saigou beneath his frost acid breath weapon.
With the emperor safely back on his throne and order restored, the party members were hailed as heroes of Shidi Ma, and Garou was given the Kamikaze-no-Tsurugi, the legendary Blade of the Divine Wind, one of the most treasured possessions of the Shi Dynasty and a relic from the World Before. The scabbard for the sword had lashed to it a piece of mirrored metal, another of the Soul Shards. Onaga thanked the heroes as well, saying that while the demon Orius was imprisoning his mind, he managed to glean some information from the demon about their plans. He found out that the demons were planning to mount an enormous attack on the Or’Kranna Stronghold in retaliation for the party’s interference in Shidi Ma and their refusal to turn over Edwyn Riverford. Onaga left to chase after Orius, wishing them great success in their efforts as he left. Worried that their allies Quill, Warmaster Aganon, and the rest of the Or’Kranna Orcs would be caught off guard, Caenus offered to make the journey back to Greenmeadow via a strenuous series of long-distance blinks. There was no guarantees that he would make it there in time, if at all, but he had to try.
As the heroes were preparing to leave, Kasai became deathly ill and began to vomit blood. In desperation, Garou led the party to bring the four Soul Shards they had recovered to Largus Vendt, hoping that he may be able to do something. As they arrive, Vendt clears his desk and has the heroes place Kasai down. They have only four of the five Soul Shards, but he believes that he can approximate the energy needed to fill the void of the final shard and save Kasai’s life. It meant sacrificing his own life in the process. He told Garou to find the final Soul Shard and stop the Order of the Three from succeeding at all costs. As Vendt performs an arcane rite, the four pieces of the Soul Mirror reform, a stream of energy escaping Vendt’s body to fill the gap. He managed to instruct them to hold the mirror over Kasai and have her look at it as the reflection became whole, as it would not last but a few fleeting moments. With that, Vendt collapsed, his soul siphoned to temporarily complete the Soul Mirror, and Kasai opened her eyes to see a twisted, demonic version of herself staring back at her. As she closed her eyes once more, the magical link Vendt’s sacrifice had created between the four Soul Shards faded, and the mirror once more broke into the separate metal fragments. Kasai took a deep, healthy breath, reached up and took Garou into her arms. They both placed an arm over Vendt’s vacant frame and wept for his sacrifice, but Regult reminded them of the promise they had made, to find that last Soul Shard, save Edwyn, and stop the Order of the Three no matter what. With that, Kasai and Garou’s eyes met, they nodded silently, and the heroes looked to the tattoo map on Kasai’s back.
The glowing pinpoint of light indicated that the final Soul Shard was located in the center of the Evertides. The map swirled and magnified, showing a series of ancient ruined structures built atop enormous stone spires erupting from beneath the surface of the Evertides, a massive scar caused by Oblivion’s destruction of Nas’Nos that had left the sea in a constant state of intense, impassible tsunami-force tidal waves. These structures built on the spires were adjoined by magical floating platforms and hanging bridges of chain and stone, the lethal waves crashing hundreds of feet below, gale force winds battering the structures without, torrential rains tearing through their splintered roofs from the roiling sky above. Appearing in one of those structures, represented as always by a rough, tribal drawing, was the unmistakable person they had been seeking for the past two weeks, Edwyn Riverford. With newfound determination and, in the case of Kasai, newfound vigor, the heroes used the Talisman of Passage one last time, leaving the body of Largus Vendt, rushing off to make his sacrifice count for something.
The portal opened into a humid, foggy passageway rendered dark by the tremendous and eternal typhoon raging outside. The whole structure swayed and resounded with bone shaking thuds from the hundred foot waves crashing into the spire from below. The chaotic sounds and horrifying atmosphere of the place was enough to drive even the most stoic and steadfast of the heroes into a fit of terror. They could barely imagine what it must have been like for poor Edwyn.
The magical map tattoo on Kasai’s back had led the party to Highwind Spire, perhaps the most dangerous place in all of Wyrmshadow. Once a series of mountainous peaks in the nation of Nas’Nos, Highwind Spire was created when the demonic weapon Oblivion clashed with the Phoenix King over fifteen years before, their tremendous battle destroying the whole of Nas’Nos and dropping an enormous landmass violently into the sea, leaving only a few tall, thin spires of stone to stand where whole majestic mountains once prevailed. Below Highwind Spire were the Evertides, a dreadful stretch of sea that experienced unending hundred-foot tsunami-force waves, the bones of hundreds of thousands of Oblivion’s victims forever caught in the dreadful tides without end.
As the heroes found their way to a spiral staircase leading to higher levels of the spire, they began to see signs that this place served as headquarters to the Luminati. Their suspicions were eventually confirmed true as they were faced with scores of black and silver armored Luminati troops. Onward they battled, and with the strength of their convictions and the help of the Holy Flame and the Kamikaze-no-Tsurugi, they eventually made their way across a treacherous suspended bridge and into the main citadel of Highwind Spire, where they heard the sounds of a struggle in the chamber beyond a set of sealed metal doors.
Once within, they saw the bodies of several Luminati soldiers on the floor, a bloodied, yet familiar troll nursing a deep cut in his torso, beating a similar set of sealed metal doors in a terrifying rage. Canaga noticed the heroes and said that their friend Edwyn was being tortured by Skandriss in the next room. He returned Map leads them to Highwind Spire, the headquarters of the Luminhis dwarf friend’s ax and received as a reward access to an artifact called the Seeking Stone, which when used to smash an article belonging to another person would instantly teleport the bearer within fifty feet of that person. He used it to smash Skandriss’s black bladed dagger and it brought him here, but he was too late to stop Skandriss from slipping off to continue torturing Edwyn. They could hear their friend’s impassioned cries for help amid the deep hum of a sick sounding magical torture device. However, unlike the first set of doors, they could not find a way through this set. Then, Garou thought of the Talisman of Passage. In placing the talisman against the doors, they disappeared altogether, and they rushed into a room filled with Luminati soldiers, with Edwyn strapped to a huge circular metal plate against the distant wall, a group of five powerful looking old wizards chanting in a semi-circle surrounding him, and Skandriss off to one side, weapons drawn, ready to protect the Luminati Elders until they finished the Runometric rite they were performing to peel the data etched onto Edwyn’s soul. A mass of runic symbols swirled in the air overhead between the five wizards and Edwyn, the symbols being pulled through Edwyn’s heart violently, every one leaving a bloody wound as it was torn through him and affixed to the rest. Whatever the symbols were, the last of them tore out of him just as the heroes burst into the room, as one of the wizards bellowed to Skandriss: “We have all the symbols, but they must be sorted! Just buy us more time!” Before anyone else could react, Canaga looked into Edwyn’s pleading eyes, wept tears of grief, and threw a dagger across the room and through the gnome’s heart. Edwyn’s cries of pain finally ended, and as Grail and Regult looked to Canaga and then back to their friend, they realized the troll had done the only humane thing that could be done, and from the tears in his eyes, they knew it was the hardest thing he likely ever had to do. Canaga screamed “For Edwyn!”, crying out the name of a gnome he never met but, due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, he felt responsible for his dreadful fate.
The heroes engaged in the most titanic battle they had yet seen, pulling out every stop and managing to cut a path to the five wizards. Two of the wizards turned their attention to protecting the other three from Grail and Regult while Skandriss and the few remaining soldiers kept Garou, Kasai, and Canaga busy. Eventually, the two wizards fell, two more turning to protect the last one, and the code was quite nearly complete. As the last of the soldiers fell, the third wizard screamed success and Skandriss disappeared into a shadow in the wall to reappear in front of the wizard, who handed him a Talisman of Passage with the floating runes taken from Edwyn etched onto its surface. The three wizards poured themselves into attacking the heroes while trying to buy Skandriss time to use his Talisman of Passage. However, Canaga intercepted Skandriss and did his best to stop the shadowmancer from making good his escape. However as the last of the three wizards was killed, Skandriss slapped his talisman on a door, thereby opening a portal, and as Canaga leapt at him the shadowmancer landed a horrifying slash to Canaga’s throat, causing the troll to collapse wordlessly to the ground. The heroes rushed to stop Skandriss passing through the portal but it was too late. They swung the door open to reveal a supply room beyond and nothing more. Canaga silently choked, blood spewing from his lacerated neck, the life disappearing from his eyes, but a feint glimmer of a smile coming from his lips. Kasai knelt over him and tried to heal his wounds but he shook his head ‘no’ and instead placed something into her hand. It was Skandriss’s Talisman of Passage, which the thief managed to pick off the shadowmancer before he disappeared through the portal. With no time to lose, the heroes gave a silent salute to Edwyn and said ‘thank you’ to Canaga before reopening Skandriss’s Talisman of Passage. Garou stopped just before he stepped through and took his own talisman from his neck, placing it around Canaga’s, and bowing in reverence of his noble sacrifice. Then he leapt through the portal just as it closed.
This portal was by far the most disorienting of all the ones the heroes had travelled through before, and every one of them had to pause and collect their stomachs before continuing. They had appeared in some sort of curving hallway encircling a massive central area, with a series of ornate gold and jade columns flanking elaborate landscape tapestries depicting exotic, unheard of locales. The outer wall was the most striking, however, as it was entirely transparent and revealed this structure’s position miles above the world’s surface, with clouds passing below and stars visible through the daylight sky. They heard the sound of a tremendous roar which shook the heroes to their very cores, the sound coming from the large central circular area. They rushed along the hallway to find a massive half-open arch-shaped door, a green tinted glow bursting through from within. As they entered the central area, a dome ceilinged five hundred foot circle, they saw a colossal two-headed dragon sitting atop a pile of glowing green gemstones, a sword floating in the air in front of him whose blade was cast in a metal that reflected an eternal, starry night’s sky. Skandriss had just taken the sword into his hand as the heroes made their entrance. The dragon roared furiously, flapping its wings and causing a wind so great that it slammed the door out shut.
“WHO DARES TO INTRUDE INTO THE DOMAIN OF THE GUARDIAN DRAGON, INZAUS?”
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Session 1 – Not A Moment’s Peace
Session 2 – A Small Town’s Justice
Session 3 – Malign Passage
Session 4 – Brothers in Misfortune
Session 5 – Disaster Heralds Destiny
Session 6 – Freeport Blues
Session 7 – Showdown in Solomel’s Saloon
Session 8 – Unlikely Allies, Unforeseen Enemies
Session 9 – The Hunt for Blackblood
Session 10 – The Luminati
Session 11 – Shidi Ma
Session 12 – Guardian Dragon
Session 13 – The Order of the Three