The party is standing before the Dragon-newts just outside of the ancient ruins.
When asked if he trusted the other Dragon-newts, Glarg replied, "no, not really. I've been raised by humans, and I don't know anything about you."
The Dragon-newts unfurled their wings. The Party also noted that each carried weapons fashioned of obsidian.
The leader of the Dragon-newts continued, "well then Glarg, we have some things to show you. Would you be willing to join us further in what you call the Great Waste?"
The Party quickly agreed, and the Dragon-newts led them several hours into the edges of the Great Waste, also known as the Wastes of Lei Po, and the remnants of the Great Northern Empire of Man. Soon the Party stood before a plinth that stood some thirty feet high. It had four sides, and its base measured forty feet per edge. It narrowed to thirty feet on a edge at the top. The sides were covered in ancient writings, and the whole structure exuded a feeling of incredible age and power. Here was a structure that had both survived the destruction of the Great Northern Empire and likely predated it.
Noticeable on the plinth was a new Rune. Abram remarked that this was the Rune of Dragon-newt. The Dragon-newts were so ancient as a race that they had their own Rune co-equal with the Runes of Fire, Water, and Life.
The leader of the Dragon-newts bid the Party members to join hands. Once they were all joined in a chain, he touched the plinth and said some WORDS. The Party saw the landscape melt away and felt a rushing of the body and the spirit as they were propelled across the Waste. Plinths whizzed by, and at last the Party was deposited at a plinth far, far away from anywhere that they had been before.
The Leader handed Glarg an inscribed jade bauble and told Glarg that if ever he was slain that this item would rescue him and transport Glarg to the Kingdom of the Dragon-newts where more of Glarg's powers would be revealed to him.
The Party asked about the Kingdom, and the Dragon-newts revealed that in the East, humans co-existed with the Dragon-newts, and the whole Kingdom was ruled over by the Dragon-King. It was the destiny of all Dragon-newts to eventually become Dragons if they followed the Path of the Dragon-newt.
The Party learned much about the workings of Zhalindor according to the mythology of the Dragon-newts. It was said that the World Machine that runs Zhalindor was once whole.
the first Runes were these: Plant, Fire, Darkness, Water, Harmony, Disorder, Life, Dragon, Movement, Stasis, Air, Spirit, Cold, Illusion, Truth, Beast, Fate and Chance. The Invisible God retained Mastery, Magic, and Infinity unto himself.
While the gods held the great cabal, one from “outside” entered the world. He is known by many names. The Grandfather, Grandfather Mortal, and Oussindi are but a few. The Invisible God spied the stranger though and questioned this new creature from the outside of creation. The stranger cowered in the face of the gods, but they comforted him. At last he spoke “I have brought gifts from outside of this world from the space beyond the chaos which is cold where many worlds lie in seas of dark circling many suns.” The gods looked at each other in wonderment. The Invisible God harbored many things unto himself, and at length he spoke to the stranger “what have you brought to this world, old friend?” The Grandfather opened his bundled blankets of metal and jewels and arcane glyphs and sigils not seen before or since on this world .... the items inside were three: Death, Man and Void. The Invisible God took each and turned them into a Rune. The Rune of Man he assigned to Grandfather, but the Runes of Death and Void he hid deep in the darkness of hell where none, even Xiola Umbar, could find them. The Invisible God cast a great magic and put the Grandfather to sleep for the Invisible God feared the tidings the stranger brought. For a time, the gods were pleased with the newly formed Runes; this was especially true once they learned after a span to use a bit of the other gods’ Runes.
The gods used each Rune to produce new creatures and conditions. Aldrya used the Runes of Plant, Man and Fertility to create elves. Many gods created many new races, and through it all, Grandfather Mortal slept. After a timeless period, some gods and goddesses tired of this perfect world in which they lived, and at last two conspired to travel through hell in search of the two lost Runes. They were Humakt and Eldar. Their adventures were many, but in the end, they each recovered a Rune. Humakt brought forth Death, and Eldar brought forth Void. Humakt stole up upon the Grandfather while he slept and used the Rune of Death on him. When the Rune pierced him, Grandfather screamed “I am slain!” Where his blood fell on the world, men sprang up. The place where Grandfather died is called the Dead Place to this very day. When the other deities saw what Humakt had done, they were exceedingly angry, but Humakt used Death to slay those who opposed him. Seeing this Eldar fled into the hills and forests far from the Spike and halls of the gods. The other gods fell back afraid, and again the Invisible God intervened. First, he took the first men from the Dead Place and hid them far to the south I Palmalta, the land apart. The Invisible God wept for his friend from the places beyond and called the second great cabal of the gods.
While the gods gathered, Death was loose in the world, and creatures experienced mortality. The wisdom of the ages was lost as the elder races began to die, but still the magical wellsprings of the world flowed. There arose the greatest sorcerer ever known amongst the elves. His name is still whispered only in the darkest nights ... Lichtadon! Lichtadon was a young elf, only 10,000 years old when he met Eldar carrying the Rune of Void. Lichtadon asked Eldar what the Rune did, and Eldar in his pride replied “friend Lichtadon, surely this Rune will grant you the powers from beyond needed to defeat Death, and your praises will be sung forever!” Lichtadon’s pride was also great, and he endeavored to use the Rune in a mighty spell. Lichtadon wished the spell to truly be the pinnacle of creation, and while the gods debated, Lichtadon crept up the Spike into the chambers of the Invisible God and stole Magic, Mastery and Infinity. When Lichtadon added these Runes to his spell, a great rent was torn in the fabric of the world, and hideous creatures were released into the world.
The creature’s names are terrible to hear. Their very blood was like magic, and their forms were hideous beyond compare. Others called them the Old Ones, but they themselves called: Xy, Agu, Al-vil, Erva, Netosa, Tarm-kin-toe, Ya-ank-met, and Yablik. Everywhere they wrought destruction. They destroyed the Great Machine and drove the Invisible God to the blue moon beyond the world. Many gods and goddesses were slain. The great cities of the dwarves were ground to dust. The forests of the elves were blighted, and the trolls were cursed. The dragons were driven back. At last the gods and creatures of the world rose up against the menace and fought against the Old Ones. Terrible were the magics and great the battles! Many gods betrayed their brothers when the battles went against them and sealed their own fates with those of the Old Ones. The gods and goddesses steeled themselves for one last battle against the Old Ones, and as the gods and godlings drew up their battle lines, each one knew that the forces unloosed would destroy the world while ridding it of the menace of the Old Ones. A great glow appeared in the sky above the battle, and the Invisible God was there! He invoked the greatest spell seen since the creation of the world, and it was ever afterward called the Great Compromise. The Old Ones were buried deep within the bowels of the world and each god was taken away from the mortal plane. The Invisible God looked upon the world and said “to my children that remain, heal the rent, and never again shall the gods so directly intervene in the affairs of this world. But as a grim reminder, I give you two new Runes, Evil and Chaos, lest you ever forget the dangers of invoking that beyond your comprehension. I likewise give you the Rune of Law to balance the destruction of the world. From this day forward, no man will know my name.”
And so it was ... the world was created and all its creatures and the gods gave the world their Runes and the gifts of magic. Many are the tales and from many lands the names and deeds of the gods and their avatars, and many more were the great spirits who called themselves gods to mortal men in the days that followed, but these are tales around other campfires on other days.
The History of Man: The first men were the sons and daughters of Grandfather Mortal who fell from his wounds in the Dead Place. They wee all taken away by the Invisible God to Palmalta to the south. Great were the adventures that these first mortals knew, and men were known to have great sorcerers in those days. The ancient cities of Palmalta hide the origins of the human race. Great bargains were struck with the forces which inhabited the world and beyond. Some were evil and some were good, and there still remain legends that the sorcerers of old will walk again if properly conjured. Some of the sorcerers built great cities, and some were strangely changed through the pacts they made and the formulae they cast.
These were the Slith. The first men lived for many years in this land, but at last, the Slith grew weary of the place they called home.
In the days following the Great Compromise, the Slith took their slave men and ventured in small craft across the great waters of the world to the land later to be called Timeria. The land here was not so touched by the foul hands of Chaos as Palmalta, and the man that lived here prospered. In those days, the elves and dwarves were still weak from their encounters with the Old Ones, and men naturally expanded into the areas vacated by the elder races.
It was during this time that men of magic including Malachi and St. Acheron aided by Cragspider and other powerful immortals challenged the Slith rule in the continent of Zhalindor, and the shackles of the Slith were slipped.
Then too was the great spell sealing the oceans cast ..., but this is a tale for another time.
Eventually many men moved into the land of Lei Po, and they formed a great nation there. The leader of the great nation was known as the Invincible Overlord, and this elder land made its capitol at Traagor. The peoples of this land also moved across the Zhorante mountains and west toward the Pool of Magasta.
Also in these days evil remnants of the Old Ones continued to ravage the land, and some men of this elder nation bred with demons of the Void. The chief priest of the Overlord was called Mung, and it is rumored that he made foul pacts with the forces of evil and struck bargains with the Immortal Vampire and Lord Eldar.
There came a day when the evil practiced by the humans of Lei Po could no longer be tolerated, and each of the kingdoms of troll and elf and dwarf sent liaisons to the Timerian Empire (for indeed an empire it had become) and asked Arco the Great to take some action against his brethren to the north. Arco the Great gathered his three most trusted advisers: Hrothmir the Bold, Carrastinian the Adept, and Tien the Wise. Together they left to face the great menace to the north, and this is their tale.
During their journey north, Hrothmir received a vision from Yelm. Yelm instructed Hrothmir to travel to the Yagha Tsorv mountains and seek out the Temple of the Rising Sun. The band immediately set out through the mountains to find the temple. Every foul creature of Chaos found them in the mountains and attempted to held them from their appointed place, but onwards, always onwards the intrepid party journeyed. At last they reached the temple. Inside they received further dreams and visions. Hrothmir was instructed in how to find or construct the globe of Zeal, shining sphere of green, imbibed with the magics of the gods of Law. Carrastinian was told how to find or construct the globe of Magic, a shining orb of red, swirling with the magics of the gods of the Compromise. The Tien was instructed how to find or construct the globe of Mentalism, a clear globe, filled by the mental energies of the gods of the Compromise. Each was also given gifts by the deities to the furtherance of their mission.
Arduous and long were each of their journeys. Hrothmir traveled north to: the top of the Spike, the Place of the Dead, the Citadel of Lead, and the plains of the Prax. Carrastinian traveled to the west to: the Thousand Isles, the Dwarvish Citadel of Iron, and the Place of Magic in the Silver Mountains. The Tien traveled to the east across the Zhorante mountains to the Citadel of Dragons. After many years, the three reassembled south of the Spike to erect the sacred tower which they called the Tower of Indomitable Circumstances.
As if by magic, as the heroquesters gathered, members of the elvish, dwarvish and trollish nations also assembled and helped to erect the tower. These members of the elder races also brought with them or assembled the last portions of the Artifact, two Runes of Stasis, because the Artifact was so powerful that, once created, it had to exist partially out of Time lest the world be destroyed.
Finally came the day when the Artifact was completed, and the three left the tower to do battle with the Overlord and his evil minions. The battles were long and the magics awful to behold, and in the end, the entire kingdom of Lei Po lay in waste. To this day this region is called the Great Waste. Traagor lay in ruins, and evil and Chaos were pushed back everywhere. At long last, the world was nearly rid of Chaos and only a few pockets of foulness remained in the northern continent: the foul swamp of Fess, the upland swamp of Dialecti, Snakepipe Hollow, and the jungles of Yin Sloth to name a few. The heroes prepared with great confidence for the final destruction and annihilation of evil and Chaos, but that evening as they gird for battle, the Invisible God appeared to each of the heroquesters and said
Great is the work you have done, but do not forget the Great Compromise! Lichtadon burns yet in the pyres of hell for his error! Do not repeat it! I ordain you each as priests of balance. Scatter the fragments of the device and trap them lest they be used again in ignorance, and leave one portion with a dark lord of Chaos as a symbol of your trust in the Great Compromise.
And so, they dutifully scattered the fragments of the device which was known to the people of that day as the Artifact of Ultimate Destruction. But, in the end, Hrothmir withdrew his pledge and founded a city of Law which he called Slot in honor of his shield bearer. It is rumored that Hrothmir was slain by the balance for his sacrilege by a vampire, a powerful servant of Chaos, who is cursed forever to guard the tomb of bold Hrothmir. Little is known of what became of the Tien or Carrastinian although it is rumored that when the forces of Law lay in peril again, they will aid those who seek to right the balance.
The Dragon-newts took the Party back to the plinth on the west of the Great Waste. The Party made its way back towards the Waste Inn. On the way there, they came across OB leading a great group of halflings. OB invited the Party to help him attack the last citadel of the Lopnelians. The Party politely declined and moved on.
The Party spent a full week training, resting, and recovering at Last Hope's Chapel before heading to the west and eventually south.
The Party went the next day to Red Stone keep, and then next day the Party ventured to Forest's Edge keep. The Party stopped by Jericho's magic shop on the way to Knight's Crossing Inn. On the way to Quivera, the Party stopped by the noble member's holdings. Sola had taken up residence there, and now the Overmen and Goblins were busy raising swath. Glarg directed that the considerable profits be reinvested.
The Party made its way to Quivera and was received with much fanfare. (During this lull, Abram contacted the authorities about the swath growing operation, and he visited with his relatives in the city.)
The Party spent the next several days traveling down to Balcon.
There ended one session ...
There began the holiday session ...
The highlights from the session were:
- party arrived back in Balcon - the party found out that two seasons ago, the Duke was actually captured while exploring to the southeast. The lieutenant of Veldman was somehow involved in the Duke's capture. - Reginald asked the party to come see him; Silvus & her apprentice, Sabrina, we're there. The three of them explained that the Great Dark Season ceremony was disrupted, because Isaac the Alchemist went mad and stole the sacred straw needed for the ceremony. - this is of particular import, because the Duke sent a message to Reginald saying that the Duke's anticipation of the Ceremony was the main thing that kept his morale up - Silvus & Sabrina found out that humans approaching Isaac's mansion were turned into crazed gingerbread men! So ... The party members were transformed into bugs to infiltrate the mansion. - many gingerbreads were killed (and consumed!!!), and Isaac had been turned into a giant, crazed, holiday pudding! The party made quick work of him despite his impressive arsenal of gumdrop lobbers and woven-licorice armor! - the Party was transported back to Balcon, and Silvus transformed the team back into their original forms - the Party emerged from Silvus' tower to find a cheering crowd welcoming back the Duke to Balcon ...
Roll the credits till next year ...
Let the games begin!