032. Dark Side of the Moon, Part 2

 

 

The battle rages on outside, while Toggaf wakes up in Kazzen’s Chambers, sore from his ressurection and his neck throbbing in pain.  He stumbles around and finds a secret passage that leads to a long corridor.  He finds a bookshelf, rifling through quickly looking for something, when a whispering voice echoes in his head.  Richard is reaching out to him… Richard knows that Corvus is dead, as Corvus’ last act was to transfer some of his consciousness to him.

The dark energy that Kazzen projects at the moon causes great fissures to appear on the moons surface.  Sparks fly from the staff, and suddenly a great portal opens up in space near the statue of Embra, and out crawls a familiar looking half-elf.  He looks older, more haggard, but it is definitely Toggaf.  Future-Toggaf crawls, gravely wounded, toward Barlo.  He says, in his dying breath, “We were too late.  The cycle will run anew!  We should have forged the Sword of Stars.  Talk to the Elves and tell them what you know, they will help.  Unite the cubes and unlock Chronex’s power.”  Future toggaf dies.

Toggaf looks out a window at the chaos below.  He sees the eastern wall has been breached, and the black god, the abomination, the plague of undead is rampaging through Parthen and moving toward the party!!

Through telepathy, they work together on a plan…

D’understanding’s prayer is answered, and a brilliant bolt of lightning strikes down at Kazzen.  His smoldering body falls down behind the iron walls, with a low thud.  

Kazzen is dead.

Barlo notices the abomination rampaging through the streets, making a ruin of the buildings it encounters … it is coming for them!

 

Toggaf, rifling through a stack of papers, finds a scroll of mass teleport.  He reaches out to Richard for help, and Richard things with their combined mental powers, they can use this spell.  Toggaf closes his eyes, mouths the words on the scroll, and he feels a tug through the fabric of space…

The party, including Richard, find themselves ripped through space and emerge through the other side at Triple Toss Tower.  The spell worked, they are safe.  But, Parthen is not.

 

031. Dark Side of the Moon, Part 1

 

They see that Kazzen has Corvus the Black chained to a pole in the city square.  He is surrounded by several armored knights from the queensguard.  The square itself is surrounded by statues of the 4 gods: Ekrak, Elerio, Embra and Estra.  At its center was the statue of Chronex, but that statue has been toppled and Corvus is in its place.

Mobs of civilians are bickering, some seem to be supporting Kazzen and some seem to be against him.  Kazzen claims that Corvus is reponsible for the abomination that rose from the Sacred Forest.

The party is spotted by Kazzen.  His first action is to magically conjure a walled square of thick iron around him and Corvus.  As they fight off the guards, Toggaf decides to climb on top of the statue of Ekrak to get a view over the iron wall.

As he approaches the top, he can see Corvus, but Kazzen is invisible.  Suddenly, Kazzen appears above Corvus, floating, and he fires a set of magic missiles at Toggaf.  Toggaf stumbles backward, wounded, topples off the statue, and snaps his neck, dying instantly…

.. in another instant, his body and possessions disappear as the Cloak of the Phoenix he was wearing glows with magical fire and flutters silently to the ground.

Kazzen uses his staff, the top of which is affixed a Cube, to conjure black energy tendrils from the moon.  They snake down and turn damage the whole party, and kills the villagers and many of the knights instantly.  

… Toggaf exists in the existential soup between living and dying, and in that instance he sees Corvus.  Corvus opens his mouth to speak but no words come out.  He mouths the words “I’m sorry,” but fades from view as Toggaf is pulled, pulled, pulled back to Earth.

Meanwhile, D’Understanding is looking to the sky, quietly praying for rain… the clouds slowly coalesce ...

 

018. Kazzen part 2

 

Toggaf attempts to infiltrate the mind of Kazzen using Phantasmal Force, but Kazzen does not fall into the trap.  Toggaf casts Web, but if fails to ensare Kazzen.  Kazzen casts Slow on the party and then Massmorph, to turn the trees into soldiers, druids and archers.  The party is surrounded by almost 20 additional foes, and their movements sluggish.

The party, in its slowed state, tries desperately to find an effective attack.  The melee damage-dealers can do little but nickel and dime the 18 foes.  Meanwhile, Toggaf digs in his pack (slowly) for a scroll.  D'understanding looks ponderously through the skylight to the azure blue sky.  D'understanding starts praying for rain.

Kazzen see's the party's feeble attempts, and taunts them.  "You think you know Corvus' power?  You have seen nothing yet!"  He pulls out a vial of blood and pours a drop on the cube, which glows in a dark cobalt light.  Then, he attaches the cube to his staff, and stabs the staff into the ground.  A wave of dark energy washes over the ground, killing the grass on the floor and doing damage to everyone else in the room.  

This display just angers the party even more.  At this point, Toggaf is able to read from his Scroll of Lightning Bolt and kill half of the room and do significant damage to Kazzen.  D'understanding looks at the sky, darkening.  His eyes turn white and he prays, harder, to the nature gods to deliver a storm....

The surviving clan of Kazzen turn their attention to the druid, trying to break his concentration.  Still, still, the clouds continue to build...

The slow spell dissapates, but Kazzen is not done.  He raises his hands at the Druid, knowing what he must do, and casts Magic Missile at D'understanding, doing significant damge.  Still, his concentration holds.  The smell of rain fills the room, and the hairs start to stand on the back of everyone's neck.

Kazzen pauses to look up at the storm cloud, as a bolt of lightning strikes down and seemingly vaporizes the evil wizard.  When the party searches the remains, all they find is his cloak, with sewn in runes that spell out "cloak of the phoenix."  The blue cube, the staff, and the body of the wizard are gone.

They kneel to inspect the sapling.  D'understanding sacrifices some of his own life force to the sapling to keep it alive.  They dig it out of the ground and keep it watered.  That night, camping in Presto's Tower for the last time, Barlo has nightmares of a Great Black God rising from the forest and shaking villages down with his fists.  It is a terrible dream.

The party heads out of the tower.  With D'understandings help, they find a few Sacred Elk to help protect them from wandering monsters, and they retrace their steps back out of the forest, spending another ten days trekking back through the Sacred Woods.  Finally, when they return to Triple Toss Tower, 36 days after leaving it, they find the shield of Ekrakk still going strong, and two graves -- one marked "Slim" and one marked "Grassfoot."

017. Kazzen part

 

Suddenly, as if pulled by strings, Presto's body sits upright!  His eyes roll back into his head, revealing yellow, bloodshot corneas.  The blood dripping from his mouth gurgles and runs thick and black like tar, smelling of sulfur and death.  Presto stands up, his skin now redenning and becoming covered with boils.  He leans back, lets out a blood curdling scream, and begins to attack the party.  The party manages to kill the Demonvessel that occupied Presto's body, but in its last moments, it warns the party that "it is too late, the ritual is complete.  Khash is risen."

The party rushes upstairs, and finds a narrow passageway.  To the left is a stone door covered in druidic runes.  To theright is a locked door.  They have a key!  Inside they find Presto's chamber.  They search frantically for a way to open the stone door.  They find a document illustrating the family lineage of Corvus the Black's Family, as well as a Vial of Blood from Corvus the Black.  They also find a Map of the World (with a red X on the location of "Triple Toss Tower."  Behind a hanging tapestry, they find instructions on how to open the door.  The instructions display the same set of runes, some of which are colored in red.  The party figures out through trial and error that they must use the vial of blood on a finger to trace over the runes.  The stone door opens to reveal a large room, carpeted in thick grass.  Dotted all around are 6 foot tall trees.  The ceiling is open, bathing the room in sunlight.  In the center of the room, in a mound of dirt, is the sapling of the evertree.   

 

The party moves in to inspect the sapling, which looks worse for wear.  Suddenly, they hear a noise from above.  A cloaked figure carrying a staff slowly descends upon them.  He appears to be a wizard in his mid 40s.  His hair is long and silver.  His facial features angular.  His ears are pointed.  Half-Elf, maybe?  He is clutching a gnarled staff.  He reveals himself to be Kazzen, chancellor to Queen Parthen and the high mage of the kingdom.  

Kazzen knows of Team Triple Toss, and even knew of their plans to take the sapling.  "You see," he says, "you have been gone for ... what ... 21 days, searching for this twig?  You know I couldn't resist the temptation you left me back at your tower."  With that, he produces a blue cube.  "Pity," he continues, "that you left snakemen in charge.  They just can't resist gold.  We watched your tower for 5 days.  Each night, at dusk, the shield would receed, two snakemen would come out, and then again the shield would return.  Exactly at dusk.  It was then that a humble travelling merchant happened upon -- 'Slim', was it? -- and offered 15,000 gold to buy a cube.  He dutifully produced a blue cube -- he knew enough not to give me the green one -- then a snotnose little goblin (Grassfoot) rushed out to stop the sale, but a contract is binding and ... well, breaking a bond is punishable by death.  He orders the party to come willingly or face death.

The party chooses the latter.