The party’s tale takes a turn for the weird, as, finally reunited with Dengar, our heroes venture to the darker parts of the capital city of Daudale, to an area of Orks & mercenaries known as “the sink.” After a brief run-in with Grayson Dent (during which Wayne’s protege was made ill by a spiked drink), the group heads to the last known location of Dennek Elf-Friend, in search of clues (and possibly, a second [real] map room).
Commandeering an Inn, through Skelly’s use of song, Tristana’s drinking skills and a dash of diplomacy on the part of Aponi Brightblade and Zhael, our heroic strangers made uncovered additional involvement in their quest on the part of the mercenary band the Kestral, and a rather scary looking group of Enxian death worshippers. Granted magical access to an ancient shrine, they encounter cold-using clones of Dennek, along with some strange, spontaneously reproducing crystal guardians. The good guys naturally dispatched the clones and crystals, but the battle was not without cost. Mage Tristana fell, the first of the party to perish in this quest. Thankfully (and perhaps a bit TOO fortuitously, Grayson Dent showed up in the shrine, just as the party defeated the crystal guardians.
With little time to mourn, the group made its way into a lower chamber, where Dennek’s (?) body lay, suspended in cold embrace. The wizard rose from the icy grip of a self-imposed spell, demanding to know who his “rescuers” were, and wary of “foul changelings.” The heroes naturally passed Dennek’s test to confirm their identities. “Grayson Dent,” however, did not. As the party watched, a brief struggle between old wizard and powerful shapeshifter ensued. The changelings magical wards made him untouchable to the adventurers.
Not so, with Dennek. The wizard had planned ahead. Activating his own wards, he blasted the shapeshifter into nothingness. Then he led the party out of the Sink, and to his secret laboratory, where, indeed, there was yet another map room.
Many questions (and a trip to the Temple of Raciata, where Tristana’s body was given over for resurrection and recovery) later, the party was told all they had done was wasted. It appears the iron circles were fakes, lures for the white elves and their compatriots. Dennek then told them a wild tale of a great struggle betwen Lon Sheribus, “The Bad Seed,” who, having fallen to evil, continues to rise again and again.
His words were: “There is an unholy trinity rising: White Elves, Black Fire Druids and the Thorn Lords themselves. It is tied to the essence of The Failed King, Lon Sheribus, the Bad Seed. Sheribus’ essence has never been fully purged. For decades, the Moonblades have sought an answer to eliminate the essence itself. The only solution appears to be to kill it before it begins. To that end, myself, Xichil and Derreck Ironhart of The University of Metaphysics and Magic in Omeria, have been formulating a plan that requires pinpoint accuracy – to travel via the World Clock back to the point at which Sheribus gained his power. The problem is, no one has had any idea of when or how this actually occurred. TIll now…
“From what I can tell, Sheribus, the 3rd King of the Malachites, discovered the Well of the Furies somewhere in what is now modern day Malforia, during the height of his Reign as King of the White City. I can give you the information to arrive at approximately the right time. But before that, you will have to gather all the REAL circles, travel to the Earthwall, gain entrance through the Onyx Portal, then descend into The Deepwere. Somewhere below in this deep, dark realm, is the World Clock. Once there, you must place the Circles are in the correct Gear Slots, and you will be transported the party back in time to the days of the old Baldren Empire.
“It doesn’t get any easier, unfortunately. You will have to infiltrate the Malachite Kingdom, locate the old Well of Furies, and destroy it. The key to its destruction lies in your grasp. You, Zhael, are the first of the Dual Mote Borns to come to this plane in a thousand years. The book you hold can shunt the Well back to its own plane, cutting off Lon Sheribus for good. But only you, and you alone, can master its arcane secrets. If you have not done so by the time you reach the Well, everything will be for naught.”
“If you’re wondering why it must be you, you should know that we tried this once before, long ago. We sent Yosef, Zhael’s grandfather; Sir Gawaine 3rd Knight of Omeria, Belvedere’s and Aponi’s grandfather; the Lady Trent, Tristana’s Grandmother; Lord Valiant Hightower, Skelly’s Grandfather; Halien Falconeye, Adrie’s Great Grandfather; and Rynna Sunstar, the Grandmother of both Dengar and Herion Aldadir. They were sent because only they seemed immune to the greatest danger of the Circles — the ability to imprint an Aura on the holder that is unerringly detectable by Khan’s darkest avatars.
“Unfortunately, none of them returned from the quest. Through sheer luck, Xichil, Derreck and myself were able to retrieve the Gears in the present day, and place wards upon them before we were discovered by dark spies. Then we waited, for the lot of you, as it turned out. In the meantime,we have made it our quest to mislead the dark forces, until such time as we could attempt the mission again.
“And so, YOU must gather the REAL Iron Circles,” he told them, “and use them to activate the Earth Clock to go back in time and stop Lon Sheribus from making his dark pact.”