When they reappeared in the drawing room, Kanen-Tal and his crew had joined them. Upon hearing and seeing the value of the cards, he wanted nothing to do with the obviously ‘Chaotic artifact’ but the others kind of chided him to take a try.
Remember boys and girls, never give into peer pressure where a Deck of Many Things is involved!
So, with a deep breath he drew three cards:
-3 Int and draw again
-3 Permanently to saves versus Petrification
The gems netted him (and him alone) 37K gp/xp which shot him to level 7. I wasn’t supposed to let it raise him more than one level but…meh. The player is moving away next month and though he’s going to attempt to play via Skype, I imagine it will be more difficult so I decided to be nice. He took Apostasy (or Enlightened Magic as his diety’s priest hood would refer to it being the goddess of magic). Summon Dragon looked mighty tasty at level five so that got added to his list and he sort of left the other spells as TBD.
So the party couldn’t help but notice the change in Alren and kind of gave him a wide birth. There was obviously a rift forming between Lairn and Alren, as Lairn’s warnings of why a half-blood should not be involved in demon-binding seemed to have come utterly true. Alren, on the other hand, was enjoying himself and saw his ascension as perfectly deserved and normal.
The party went to the acid room and retrieved the fourth key with Lilith’s unseen servent (it was in a glass globe floating on a pool of acid).
Then, knowing a terrible and powerful guardian waited at the gate they debated how to get past it… and of course Kenan-Tal was arguing for using his new ultimate weapon, the dragon. Pointing out a limitation (there were no dragons native to ‘houses’) they decided to return to the garden and cast the spell there. So, Lairn and Kenan-Tal took the broom of flying while the other characters barricaded themselves in the acid room and waited.
In the garden, Kenan-Tal began his chant while Lairn watched for possible attackers. When the spell finished, nothing happened. Kenan-Tal looked around and waited, a bit confused. Then the trees began to rustle and shake and then Rena and the unicorn walked into the clearing.
“Hello,” she said.
“Oh, hello,” Kenan-Tal said. “Have you seen a dragon around here?”
“Yes. What do you need?”
Rena set down her ubiquitous chest and morphed into a large golden dragon. She glared at Lairn, but said nothing. “The Lady has called and I have answered.”
Regaining his composure, Kenan-Tal asked, “Why didn’t you reveal yourself to me?”
The golden beast made a motion like a shrug with its massive shoulders. “Why would I?”
“But now?” he asked.
“She has commanded and I have answered.”
Kenan-Tal seemed to take a moment to take it all in, while Lairn tried to make himself as small as elvenly possible.
“Are we good?” the priest asked. “I mean, you don’t mind me giving you orders?”
The dragon turned her head to regard him, like a quizzical dog might. “Sometimes you just have to do what you’re told.”
“Right. Ok, well, time’s running out. Let’s go.”
The pair (and their new ‘pet’) travelled at speed back to where the rest of the party were. Unafraid of random monsters (kind of hoping they’d attract some actually), they rushed back down into the dungeon and met up with party, who gaped a bit at the golden monstrosity that followed the pair. “Let’s do this,” Kenan-Tal said.
At the door to the gate chamber, they warned the dragon about what she’d face inside. She bobbed her head and slid her slender bulk into position in front of the door. With a flick of a single claw she shattered the door and stuck her head inside. There was a roar from within and she answered with a gout of flame. Then she forced her way through the door way, shattering stone and widening the passage. They saw her body shudder from some massive impact, but until she was inside, they couldn’t see what she was fighting.
Once she’d cleared the entrance, the party stepped up to the spectacle of a massive golden dragon rolling about, locked in deadly combat with a massive lion made of amber. The statue was covered in cracks and deformed from the tremendous heat of her breath. Two chests flanked the massive silver gate (which was, itself, showing signs of damage from the tremendous heat), but one of them was nothing more than a smoldering ruin from the dragon’s breath.
When Jayna’s turn came around, she opted to let the dragon sort its own mess out but she did buff Alren in case he wanted to get involved. Unable to throw many spells, Lairn tried one of his new spells (enervate) and discovered it had no apparent effect on an unliving target much to his chagrin. Some of the other characters got into melee with the lion, aiding the dragon (who was now bleeding profusely from the lion’s attacks). Kenan-Tal healed her with a high level healing spell.
The next round the two great beasts continued their fight, in danger of crushing the smaller heroes surrounding them, but finally Rena managed to get her jaws more fully over the head of the lion and, with a rock shattering bite, she smashed the top half of the lion off and spit its broken shards across the floor.
The players quickly realized that without her help, that fight may well have cost them some of their number, and they were very, very grateful for the Deck of Many Things.
Searching the remaining chest revealed two robes covered in patches, a stand with four copper bracelets (all stamped with Amerverinth), a coiled rope, and a bag that felt full but when they looked inside they could only see darkness. With experimentation, they discovered it contained a large supply of rations, water, a tent, and numerous bits of ‘adventuring gear’. Unable to discern what any of the items did (all were magical) they stared at the gate. On the other side was a barren plateau surrounded by tall mountains. The lighting appeared wrong. Otherwise, there was no discernible details.
Alren went through first. The experience was unpleasant, but not unfamiliar for his new body. However, on the other side… those who remained behind saw him stumble about, as though in pain or distress. Lairn immediately jumped through and seemed unaffected as he tried to assist Alren. Jayna went through and took a few steps before falling to her knees. Lillith and Rage Claw went through (with their hirelings) and Lilith dropped, rocking back and forth.
Kenan-Tal and Klangor debated what to do, until Klangor pointed out it wasn’t the merciful thing to do to leave their companions suffering.
And they stepped through.
At this point, I described to everyone what their characters were experiencing. Namely, everyone with ‘divine’ ability (including the half-scion) felt that connection completely severed. The flow of power, the faithful knowledge that the world was compassion, or knowledge, or strength, or retribution… gone. They became empty vessels, missing a core of themselves they had never realized was even there. Now, mechanically, what I’ve said is that their powers are no longer as strong as they once were and only their own internal knowledge can manage to eke them into functioning. As such, they must prepare their spells before they are used (like truly Old School casting…they’ve become Vancian). There will be other effects when they use some spells, but they aren’t aware of those just yet.
The sky on this side of the gate was ‘wrong’. Namely, there was no sun, and it wasn’t blue, but instead a swirling sickly green. Balls of flame hung in the sky far above, casting a strange green-tinged light over everything. The mountains were tall, but only a few hundred feet taller than the plateau they stood on. It seemed a very defensible position, unapproachable without being noticed long before you arrived and then requiring a difficult climb to reach the top of the plateau.
Or to get down.
Luckily, the players had several flyers (Lairn had a fly spell, two people could fly via the broom, and Alren has wings). So a group took to the air to scout, with Dar (the only explorer in the party). There were several trails up and over the mountains that the explorer could make out that would provide some difficulty for the party but not too much. What was more disturbing was the view on the other side of the mountains. Dead forests clung to the barren rocks on the other side for miles in every direction. Beyond that, to the ‘east’ was what looked like a vast desert and to the ‘north’ they saw a what looked like a forest at first, but then they realized was a forest of giant mushrooms. In the desert area, at the extreme distance, Lairn noticed what appeared to be straight lines carved into the ground, far too long to be natural. It had to be roads they reasoned.
Alren seethed in rage. He’d just been granted all this power and now he felt his connection to his god broken, stripping him of some of it. It wasn’t fair. He’d come so far to get what he deserved, and it was taken from him…again.
And then the game ended…but no one returned to the yellow mist.