Chaos Scar

24. The Moonstone

3/7/11: We had four players tonight... the heroes hit 5th level! I'm hoping to get on a good pace so everyone can level a couple times a month.

Artemis - Half-elf Swordmage
Eldeth - Dwarf Slayer
Hirbe - Eladrin Mage
Merric - Halfling Thief

The adventurers had contracted a demonic disease called Fleshwarp.Many of the heroes had taken on demonic traits. They raced back to their home, the Keep of the Borderlands, and consulted with the head cleric of the church of Clarissa. He was an elf called Elessan.

Elessan explained to the heroes that their disease was deadly, and that Merric in particular was at risk of transforming completely into a demon. He said that helping them was beyond his capacity. He believed, however, that the church of Zev could help them.

The heroes headed to the church of Zev. The head priestess, Chendera, couldn't help but notice that Merric was more affected than the others. She pointed out that Merric was the champion of the church, and that it did not surprise her that the others hid behind him. 

Merric's imp, Gloomhandler, began to tease Artemis for being the "new girl". Artemis dbegan to threaten the imp.

Chendera knew how to help the heroes. First, she said, she'd have her acolytes watch over the heroes as they slept to keep the disease from progressing. Once they'd rested, she'd send the heroes to a place in the chaos scar that had radiant water. There was also a radiant bowl at this place - in a shrine. If the heroes drank the water from the bowl, it would reduce the effects of the disease and make it possible for Chendera to rid the adventurers of the disease without killing them.

The adventurers agreed to this. They slept in the church. Merric was lead to a lush private chamber where he was cared for. Gloomhandler lounged on a luxurious pillow.

Once rested, the heroes set out at dawn to find the shrine. Chendera gave Merric directions. It was a half-day's journey from the keep.

The journey was uneventful. They came upon flavor text:

"Ahead, you see a strange sight. The late-afternoon sun glints off the tops of many tall glass spires of various earthy colors standing at different angles. The land has been warped and twisted, forming a forest of glass spires. As the wind swirls among the strange formations, a soft but highpitched keening rises. Sharp glass shards carpet the ground, making travel through this “ forest” difficult."

The adventurers began to make their way through the glass-spire forest. It was quite challenging. They needed to use their skills.  Merric ran ahead, effortlessly avoiding falling on the shards scattered on the ground. Hirbe reached out with his arcane senses - and sensed a strange power somewhere near. 

Eldeth looked around, but failed to see a cracked spire to her right. It suddenly exploded, cutting the heroes with sharp glass. From there, the trip became a montage of cuts, scrapes and bruises. The keen edges of the spires tore at the heroes.

They continued to follow Hirbe's sense, and came upon a glowing blue rune carved into a spire. He and Artemis studied it carefully, and were shocked at what they learned. The rune was one of many in the chaos scar, placed by an old god. The runes maintained a planar prison that kept at least one primordial (elemental god-like entities)  out of the world. 

But they sensed that someone or something was draining energy from the rune. If all of the runes were drained, the primordial would be free to wreak havoc on the chaos scar and the world once more! 

Unnerved, the heroes saw the shrine in the distance. They approached...

"Erected in the center of a small clearing ahead of you is a shrine of opaque glass. Its smooth dome is formed from a single piece of light blue glass that caps a series of fused spires of various earthy colors. A dark archway to your left presents the only entrance, but before you can investigate further, scorpionlike creatures made from the same stuff as the spires dart into the clearing and advance on your position."

Merric flung a dagger at a guardian, causing it to explode, sending shards in all directions. Another guardian fired a shard into Merric. Eldeth charged a guardian and destroyed it. She was caught in its' deadly explosion. Artemis and Hirbe destroyed more with ranged attacks.

Hirbe stepped up and cast burning hands and beguiling shards, badly injuring 2 of the four larger guardians. They fired shards at the mage, injuring him. Eldeth faced off against the other two larger guardians alone while the heroes focused on the two close to Hirbe. 

The battle raged on. Artemis created a flame cyclone that destroyed one. It exploded, doing massive damage to her (it rolled a natural 20 on its' death explosion!).  The swordmage fell to the ground, unconscious and bleeding.

Hirbe teleported back and destroyed another one with a spell. It too exploded, pelting Merric with dozens of glass shards. The halfling fell, dying.

Hirbe and Eldeth faced off against the last two guardians. Eldeth's powerful blows made the difference. They healed their friends and prepared to enter the shrine (They hit level 5 and I decided to do the video game thing where they are immediately back to full... it was a hard encounter. I'd essential'd up the creatures stats.). 

The adventurers approached the door of the shrine. It was closed but had a single purple pane of glass in the enter. There was no doorhandle. Hirbe thought for a minute, and touched the necroshard to the pane (the necroshard was now mounted on his staff). The pane hummed for a few moments - then nothing.

Hirbe had taken a shard from the glass-spire forest. He pressed it to the pane. The pane resonated with a high pitch for 20 seconds and then the door opened. The heroes cautiously entered....

"The ceiling of the shrine’s dome glows with a faint blue radiance, illuminating the structure slightly. An antechamber with glass basins set on either side opens into the main chamber. There, narrow steps descend about 6 feet down into a rectangular depression in the floor with some sort of glass disc at its center. Beyond the depression, a pair of the strange glass guardians wait unmoving."

Hirbe tried to slide the shard toward one of the statues of the guardians. It slid and then got stuck on the floor and stopped abruptly 15 feet from the statue. The heroes were perplexed (certain squares of the floor were trapped - some were slippery, others sticky. The heroes would soon learn that the shard had crossed a sticky square.)

They saw fonts of radiant water to their right and left. The radiant bowl was on the edge of another such font on the far side of the room. That font was different - Hirbe and Artemis felt that it could be used for scrying!

The heroes were wary. Soemthing wasn't right in the room. Eldeth decided to boldy cross the room. She did and slipped on a smooth area of the floor. And then it got worse....

"You sense movement from a shadowed alcove beyond the motionless guardians, which appear to be glass statues. An ethereal humanoid figure floats forward, whispering in your minds of its precious shard as it reaches toward you with long, wispy tendrils. Although humanoid, its gaunt features, gaping orifices, and wormlike tongue resemble nothing familiar. Such an abomination could only have been spawned in some alien realm. "

The thing was telepathic. It considered itself a shard slave. It spoke in their minds "Bring me the moonstone! It was stolen from me! I must have it!". 

Merric raced forward, leaping clear over the 15 foot long recession in the floor. He landed and swiped at the shard slave. It let out a wave of psychic energy which struck Merric and Eldeth, bloodying them both. 

Hirbe knew that the Chaos Scar had been created when a star dragon hatched from the world's moon. A chunk of the moon crashed down into the scar. Other pieces of the moon - moonstone - broke off as it crashed. The meteor and the pieces of moonstone were said to have power over space and time.

Hirbe decided to try to trick the shard slave. He focused and created... a shard hamburger. The slave roared in anger. (Hirbe rolled a one, trying to use prestidigitation). 

Artemis jumped over the recession, and could not get at the shard slave, as Merric and Eldeth were in the way. She did notice that both of the glass statues near them were cracked and would explode if they took any more damage.

Hirbe focused again, and this time created a decent replica of the moonstone. The shard slave, in its' madness (and poor perception) thought it was the moonstone. Hirbe tossed it to him. The slave thanked him and gleefully said, "Behold the power of the moonstone!" and held it aloft. The slave was trying to use its' power to do... something.

The quick-thinking heroes all stopped moving. They tricked the slave into thinking it had stopped time for all but him! The slave mumbled "Not what I meant to do..! The whole world may have stopped spinning!".

Then the heroes dropped the ruse (They'd managed to trick the slave into wasting all his actions that round heh heh).  Artemis scorched it with lingering lightning. Eldeth delivered a massive blow  (for 66 damage - immobilized the shard slave!). The slave let out another blast of energy, shattering the statues and injuring itself in the resultant explosions. Merric was caught, and the flood of psychic energy knocked him unconscious.

It was immobilized. so the heroes kept their distance to keep out of the reach of its' horrid spectral tentacles. Eldeth flung her two javelins. Artemis threw her sword, and then called it back to her hand. It finally gathered its' wits andclosed in on the heroes.

The heroes had hurt it badly by this point, and were able to kill the shard slave.

They gathered up the bowl, drank the water, and then toyed with the scrying pool. They checked on their friend Varian, and found him inand ogress' hut. The ogress was seductively feeding him spoonfuls of oatmeal.

They then looked on Warduke. They saw him sitting on his black horse, near a stone pillar of eyes, talking to a portly hobgoblin. He was holding... a moonstone. 

Hirbe then focused, searching. He wanted to see who it was who was draining power from the runes. The image settled on a dwarf noone had ever seen before. He seemed to be a runepriest.

Concerned, the heroes decided to return to the keep to rid themselves of their disease. Then they'd have to deal with Warduke...