Baron Ulrichstein holds a council of war. Due to their involvement and an other factors Sofiya, Amer, Brizamthimis, Esaendor, and Xarth are required to attend. Xarth will be addressing the charge that he is a human-eating monster and the other will be called upon to witness his truthful statements. Due to the intervention of his friends Xarth is spared from punishment.
While the debate is going on Briz notices some strange aura in the room. He detects the strong protections on the room from Father Oswald, who is currently strengthening the palisade – but something more sinister is inside wards. As he tries his best to find what it the Baron tells them that Isha has explained to him the history of this land and he believes the elf that they have been marked by whatever spirit inhabits this land.
The Baron just announces his decision to trust them for now when Briz locates the shadow and unravels the magic that kept it hidden. The creature he finds is similar to the astral spider they encountered in the Realm of Fire. The Baron calls for Inquisitor Voltan, but Amer cautions him that the Inquisitor has ties with Siguard the Storm Mage and this could be his doing.
No Fighting in the War Room
Nonetheless, Voltan is called and while he is working to ensnare the spider the doors to the great hall open. Eight men, four on horseback, charge through the door with weapons raised. One of the footmen is carrying a large woodsman’s ax giving off an unearthly glow. The knights and Xarth move to protect the Baron as the door guards are quickly cut down.
Esandeor and Squire Himmel engage the horsemen, stopping them from charging through the hall. In these tight quarters the horsemen as at a disadvantage because of the table and benches. Briz works feverishly as the leader throws his ax towards Xarth over and over – each time the ax reforms in his head. Finally, he is able to ensnare the ax allowing Amer to hit him over the head. As Voltan seals the ax in a protecting circle the other attackers are freed from their blood-lust and drop unconscious to the floor.
Voltan recognizes the ax handle as being fashioned from the wood of an elven life tree. The elves hold these trees to be the most sacred and such a crime could have dire consequences for the town. As Voltan closes the circle around the ax a surge rushes through Briz – drawing him towards something.
When Briz’s vision clears he is in a lightly wooded glade just outside of an elven encampment. He sees Isha and some of the Red Blades talking to each other – all of them outfitted for war. Unfortunately he is spotted by Isha who tells the others to kill him. Before the first elf can reach Briz he is pulled back into the circle and re-appears inside of the Baron’s hall.
With little time to waste Xarth he will prove himself to the Baron. He calls upon his rights as the Mortal Champion of the Djinn. He tells his herald that he has found a worthy foe, but his obligations to the town do not permit him to leave it vulnerable. The Herald agrees to give him a full day to meet this challenger and prove his mettle. After gathering themselves outside of town with Voltan, his knights, and Sir Sattler everyone can see the town simply disappear. The Herald says the town will stay in the Realm of Fire for one day only.
The Dark Heart of War
With the town secured from the Red Blades the party moves north to deal with the army of spirits coming from the Necropolis. As they near its location everyone can see a gigantic squating metal and stone figure rising above the treeline. Fire and smoke belching from its head as it slowly moves towards the town. As intimidating as that is the surrounding miasma of enraged spirits makes reach it very difficult.
The Herald arrives on the scene – approves of the opponent – and brings into creation a proper area. The surrounding trees burn while a stone Colosseum rises up. The stands are filled with all manner of power spirits and djinn – all come to wager upon the battle. The group hurry inside of the arena as the miasma is temporarily pushed outside the walls.
On the Arena Floor
They can see young Luki tied to the top of the monstrosity with a pulsing silver disk hung around his chest. Luki tells them that his father is inside and is preparing to perform a forbidden ritual to sacrifice everyone in the Barony to bring back his lost love. Xarth, Briz, and Amer rush inside the statue – but before the others can join them the raging miasma of spirit flows to the arena floor.
Voltan and his knights hold them off, but he does not have time to preform a proper ritual and keep the miasma back. As two stone dwarven statues come out of the thing Esandeor moves to fight them while Sofiya scrambles up the outside to free Luki.
Sofiya makes quick work of the locks securing Luki in place; although the silver disk seems to have bonded to his skin. Easandeor works his best to keep the statues from reach Voltan, but their stone construction is damaging his sword each time he swings.
Once Luki has been gently lowered to the ground, where he is watched over by Sir Sattler – Sofiya can look inside of the statue. She sees a bedraggled man in robes being chased by her friends. She calls out to help them but it is tool loud to hear anything.
Inside the Belly of the Beast
Xarth, Briz, and Amer go inside at the base of the statue and find a robed magician they suspect is Luki’s father. Having lost the support of Taur, the god of death and the afterlife, he has turned to necromancy to save his family. He wields these eldritch powers clumsily be the damage they cause to the surrounding area makes movement treacherous.
The three manage to harass and chase the necromancy through the war machine. Each time the man is forced to retreat in the face of their determination. When they finally reach the powerful heart of the statue they can see a complicated brass apparatus has been construction around a pulsing and churning fire.
No matter how many wounds they seem to inflict on the necromancer he shows no sign of weakening. Finally outside Luki speaks with Sir Sattler. He tells the knight that his life has been linked to his father and only in death can he be overcome. Sofiya refused to kill Luki and Esandeor is occupied destroying the remaining stone statue – so Sir Sattler reluctantly kills the young man.
The wizard ages before everyone’s eyes. He does not die, but instead weakens considerably. Amer notices his household’s god in the stands and asks for intervention. The god says he cannot intervene in the champion’s fight, but he can help Amer weather the coming storm – so he wraps Amer in glowing robes.
The necromancer beset on all sides by Amer, Briz, Xarth, Esandeor, and Sofiya dies – the last of his spirit pulled into the heart of the dwarven construction that he was trying to revive. The djinn claim the battle as a great success and return to the Realm of Fire – leaving the arena and dwarven war machine in place as a testament to their Champion.
When Ulrichstein is returned from the Realm of Fire they find it still standing; although the palisade scorched. Isha and his Red Blades could not attack the town as it was not there. They retreat into the deep woods of the Elfenwald. This stops the third doom from transpiring, so the Bloodstaff never appears in town.
As a reward the Baron grants Isha’s house in town to those who helped defend it so admirably. With a bit of discussion they turn the house over to the shoag that was freed from the menagerie. He will have to stay hidden, but he can now fulfill some of his vision quest and someday return to his tribe. He will work to free the souls trapped in the hallway below the house.
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