Having successfully rescued Augustille, the Acolytes wasted no time in returning him to the Temple of the Augur’s and his anxious sister Vargun. She and the rest of the Augurs were ecstatic to see their friend alive, and rushed down to meet him and the Acolytes at the steps of their white, columned temple. In return for this aid, Vargun has already employed her network to discovering a promising lead regarding the lost shard, Before she can relate it, however, the crowd of trolls steps back as Augustille falls to the ground in the grips of what looks like a seizure, his back arched and lips frothing. In a hoarse bellow, he cries oout the following in Aklo, which Maggott promptly translates.
The owl will seek but will not find
But spire of knowledge pays in kind
In secret kept in secret keep
In forest dark and cavern deep.
The abbey of the glutton moon
Will flow with blood, the wind in tune
To finish that begun before
And open wide the doomsday door.
The shattered star with seven shards
For seven lords with seven swords
The queen of blue in distant skies
Will kindle new the ancient wars.
The seas will rise and men will drown
And what was lost shall claim the crown
When Augustille is finished, his body relaxes and he returns to his senses. The other Augurs no sagely and helps him up, leading him into the temple. Varguns informs the acolytes that they’ve witnessed a genuine prophecy, and that she suspects this one is for them.
The Acolytes then rest up at the Tavern in the Bottoms, where Caladrel meets Achilles who recounts a terrifying vision in a dream. He dreamt of a great warrior who died atop mountain of his enemies by way of the ankle, a terrifying death Achilles himself has endured. Achilles then asks to join the Acolytes in their quest. Caladrel and the rest of the Acolytes challenge Achilles to a drinking competition. The drinking begins and as other Acolytes quit or pass out, Maggott and Achilles keep it up, drink for drink. Achilles and Maggott finally agree on a draw. Achilles begins recounting his adventure with Gambit in delivering a baby when Rogue begins to get jealous, grapples Achilles and Achilles is knocked out. The Acolytes restrain Rogue and awake Achilles. They continue drinking for the rest of the night.
The Acolytes return to the Augur Temple. Vargun was putting together some pieces of information that have been puzzling her of late. The word on the street is that the Council of Truth – a powerful order of scholars that vanished without a trace many years ago – has either returned or has been reformed, and people have been seeing the Council’s wide-eyed owl sigil showing up in strange places. Now the Therassic Spire has shut its doors – an unheard-of event for the great institution – and isolated itself from communication with the outside world. Realizing the two might be connected, Vargun called in some favors, and was able to discover that the two organizations have quietly put together a team of adventurers to illegally enter the Undercity in search of a powerful artifact – something they refer to as “the Runelord’s Shard.” They head for the Therassic Spire to investigate.
The Acolytes approach the huge iron-bound doors of the library and find them shut tight with a small meticulously lettered sign announcing that the library is closed until further notice. Vargun ignores it and pounds on the door with a meaty fist, keeping it up for a full minute. At last, a panel in the door slides open, and a pair of beady eyes stare out through ornate metal grillword. “If you can’t read the sign.” A prim voice says, “Then there’s nothing in here for you anyway.” The Acolytes begin question the beady eyes and when they mention a Runelord, the eyes behind the grating go wide, and then the doors crack open. A hunched human woman in red robes ushers them in quickly, closing and barring the doors behind them.
The librarian introduces herself as Koifa and explains the library’s situation. Unbeknownst to most people, the librarians of the Therassic Spire are not the first scholars to take up residence in Kaer Maga, nor are they the best. Far below them, in a subterranean realm called Xavorax, dwells a race of extraplanar researchers called the Caulborn. Much like the giant monument-city itself, the caulborn predate the empire of Thassilon, and even served the runelords for generation before finally being driven below the surface by the calamities of Earthfall. In recent years the librarians of the Therassic Spire have occasionally made telepathic contact with the caulborn in order to answer specific esoteric questions, though always at a price. Months ago, however, the caulborn contacted the librarians directly, offering to help the surface-dwellers recover an artifact of great power – a shard of Xin’s great Sihedron – from another legendary realm below the city called the Dark Forest. In doing so, the caulboirn revealed to the librarians something none of the scholars knew: that their town tower contained a secret door, hidden to thousands of years, which leads down to an undiscovered portion of the Undercity that contained one of Karzoug’s many workshops. The caulborn informed the librarians that if they could send a band of adventurers to meet emissaries from Xavorax in “the chamber of the black menhir, beyond the River of Memory,” the caulborn would aid that band, using the Black Menhir to transport the adventurers to the heart of the Dark forest, where the blind creatures’ research has indicated the shattered star fragment rests. Greedy for the chance to study the item, the scholars agreed, and under the pretense of resurrecting the great Council of Truth, the librarians recruited an adventuring party to travel into the hidden dungeon below to meet the caulborn emissaries. The entire endeavor – to send the recovery team down through the lost workshop to the meeting point with the caulborn, then into the Dark Forest for a quick snatch-and-grab – was supposed to take only a few days at most. Yet something has gone wrong, and the team hasn’t returned, nor has it apparently reached the rendezvous with the caulborn. Fearfull of what they may have awoken in the city’s depths, the librarians set up a constant guard around the secret door, and dare not let anyone into the library for fear that visitors might notice something amiss and contact the Duskwardens. At this point, Koifa just want the whole problem to go away. The Acolytes and the Librarians negotiate a price for the recovery of the item, 10000gp total, if they can get it with stealth and speed and the librarians can research it for 24hours. Koifa also negotiates a price for the return of the previous party, 500gp for their bodies and 1000gp if they come back alive. The party is made up of a female human Sweettalker monk named Hasari, a male Halfling fogue named Perotus, a male gnome bloatmage named Luonim the Vast and a female dark naga named Silasni. The Acolytes use their time to research what information about the Undercity and the shard. Achilles calls on Zeus who comes back saying ‘Yeah, bad stuff down there. Sorry, ran into this seriously sweet honey…kinda uppity though…so I turned into a swan and then she was all “Oooohhh what nice feathers you have…ohh they tickle”. Halfway through getting my Anatidae on, 15, no, 1500 ninjas showed up to take me down. Needless to say, they were spitting feathers by the end of it. True story.”
To be Continued… when I have time to finish it