The Champions of Elon bid farewell to the Galadinthar Elves and continued to sail west. They rounded the southwestern portion of Brind-Amor and saw nothing but the Aradesh Desert. Along the western side of the desert they began to see more green. There was a fresh water river that carved a path through the desert here, with vegetation on either side. Centered around the Serpent River was a town called Sahjar. While they had no ports, it was easy for the Chaytan to sail the short distance up the river and dock near a large stone bridge.
The inhabitants of Sahjar marveled at the boat, having never seen anything like it before. The Champions disembarked and began to explore the town around a small marketplace centered around a modest statue of Ao.
Greetings friends, exclaimed an older gentlemen, Welcome to Sahjar, the jewel of the Aradesh." The man points at Theren, I don’t know you, but I know the rest of you. Eagle’s Talon? Wait, no, Red Hawk’s Tribe! We are cousins! We are the Emerald Vipers , originally from the Jayt Valley just like you. I am Adder Karai, mayor of Sahjar. Come, join me and let us tell stories of old.
The Champions enjoyed a nice lunch on a two-story balcony overlooking the modest village and both side told stories how their ancestors fled the Doombringer Orcs from the Kainin Mountains hundreds of years ago. The encounter was upbeat until a messenger arrived bearing bad new. The Champions asked about the news:
“As you found the town of Sahjar we stumbled onto an ancient ruin nearby, buried under the sands of the Aradesh Desert. We dedicated it to Merrshaulk, our founder who is entombed there. It was a way for us to honor our forefathers and our heritage. We found, most unusual and magical things down there.”
“This thing we found, a large obelisk, has been a mystery to our people for decades. Recently we found a jewel that…powers it. It lights up, and it opened. But it still remains a mystery "
“Recently creatures have come forth from it. Orcs. Doombringer Orcs who have mastered the necromantic arts. Our mausoleum is now flooded with the undead led by orc barbarians. And we can’t get them out. We’ve sealed the mausoleum, hoping they would return from where they came, but they haven’t. Few, very few in Sahjar know about this. I don’t want to alarm the people that death is right below them.”
“If you share a hatred of orcs like we do, like our forefathers did, will you help us?”
The Champions asked a number of questions about the layout of the mausoleum, what they could expect, and details about the obelisk that sounds similar to a Pillar. Addar Karai was excited that the Champions agreed to help them and soon they all stood before the Mausoleum of Merrshaulk. “Of course, we’ll have to reseal the doors behind you, for our own safety. But once you have cleared out the orcs and undead from the mausoleum and removed the jewel from the obelisk, return to this door and knock three times, then once, then twice and we will unseal the doors.”
The Champions bid farewell to the snake-tattooed guards and entered the Mausoleum of Merrshaulk. The first room contained pictures along the walls of history of the Emerald Vipers and their escape from the Kainin Mountains from the Doombringer Orcs. A plaque at the far end of the room read: ""Mausoleum of Merrshaulk, may she rise and transcend our people to greatness." Doakiln started to feel an arcane ripple.
The Champions entered the north side room and were attacked by a wave of undead creatures.
The highlight was a minotaur skeleton that charged Doakiln and knocked him down. The Champions prevailed and found the first set of clues to open the next set of doors.
The south side room was similar, another wave of undead. Shaman Cil was fortunate to avoid being infected with Mummy Rot and here the Champions found the second clue.
It took just a few minutes for the Champions to solve the riddle for the door and it opened into a large staircase that descended to the second level. Here, skeletal archers lined the bottom steps and fired upon the Champions. Cil summoned a pack of wolves and soon the skeletons were nothing more than a pile of bones.
With the wolves leading the way, they came across two unsuspecting orcs. Before they could raise an alarm, the orcs were quickly killed. In fear of something sneaking up behind them, the Champions looked into two sides rooms before heading for the cavern. Both rooms smelled terrible, and each contained four sets of manacles attached to the walls. A single key, which opened the manacles, was found in one of the room. A large chest, which was later learned to contain the weapons and armor of the orcs, was also found.
Into the cavern the Champions found the rest of the orc invaders. The summoned wolves were a great help here as well as the orcs quickly fell under the onslaught. However, after some investigation, it looked like it was the orcs that were chained to the walls in the previous rooms. The group started to feel like they had been set up, but they did find one clue to the final door
The Champions next moved into the maze, led by Theren who quickly disappeared from sight. Visibility was extremely limited and no means of magic could dispel it. Theren could be heard but he could not tell where the voices were coming from. The rest of the group waited for Theren to find his way out. Theren stumbled around the confusing maze until he ran into a minotaur. The sounds of battle forced the rest of group to enter the maze and quickly they were split up, fighting two separate minotaurs.
Occasionly the group would also stumble across treasure, potions mostly, but they still could not find their way out. Theren and Doakiln managed to be able to double team one of the minotaurs and fight their way out of that corner of the maze.
Cil found the other set of clues for the final door and everyone just made it out ahead of the final minotaur. The group rested and healed up before entering the final room.
The final room, half filled with water, was enormous. A large pool cuts the room in half, with two side walkways on either end. A strange pool of green slime sits in front of the Aradesh Pillar on the opposite side. After the heroes entered the door behind them slammed shut, trapping them in here. A figured emerged from the waters, a giant spirit naga:
Your sacrifices will pave the way for the Emerald Vipers to transcend into Yuan-Ti! Now it is time to die, Merrshaulk commands it!
The final was epic. Shaman Cil quickly reached the other side of the room, fearful that the pillar would open and bring forth more monsters. Doakiln fired off a quick fireball knocking out three of the tribal snake warriors. Theren strafed right, firing his arrows at Yuan-Ti purebloods along the side rails. Illyria was immediately dominated by Merrshaulk and forced to fight for the naga.
Shaman Cil summoned a polar bear to fight one of the Yuan-Ti Malisons while he fended off another that just appeared from the vat of slime. Theren worked his way up one of the side walkways, picking off more targets along the way. Doakiln misty stepped over to the other side and nailed Merrshaulk and two of the purebloods with another fireball. Illyria continued to turn out to be the worst person to dominate as she couldn’t hit anyone.
Both Cil and Doakiln would get dropped, while Theren and Illyria (now back on the Champion’s side) were barely clinging to life. The spirit naga was dropped and the rest of the yuan-ti, distraught by the death of their master (and fighting with disadvantage) were quickly dispatched.
The Champions found a good amount of treasure in this room:
- A key to unlock the front doors
- A Green Infusing Stone
- Potion of Mind Reading
- Potion of Gaseous Form
- Chime of Opening (7 charges)
- Jewel of the Pillar
Before the Champions removed the Jewel from the pillar Cil stepped inside of it and saw a layout of strange buttons from within.
The lone symbol of the left lit up, but the many symbols on the right were all greyed out. Unable to do anything else with this, the Champions removed the Jewel from the pillar. It powered down, lights went off, and the door closed.
The Champions healed up as best they could before exiting the complex. They were met by a very surprised Adder Karai. Knowing full well that this was a trap set up for them to be sacrificed to the naga Merrshaulk, The Champions killed as many snake-tattooed guards and officials they could find. Many people scattered in many directions, some north to the mountains, some south into the desert. The crew of the Chaytan was freed from capture as they were to be the next wave of sacrifices to Merrshaulk.
Back aboard their ship they continued north along the western coast of Brind-Amor. Theren and Doakiln noticed it first and eventually the others agreed. Skyland looked a little lower than normal. As the continued up the coast they saw it was definitely lower, in fact, they were sure it would touch down somewhere between the Lessendia Forest and the Farathon Woods.
Acolyte Gallus as well as the dwarven Scholar Jorm were very excited, one from an arcane study and the other to meet Ao himself. A bit of fear also swept through the ship as well. The Chaytan beached and the Champions along with Acolyte Gallus, Scholar Jorm, and Rand went with them as they moved inland to where Skyland would land.
From the safety of a line of trees, the Champions saw the Skyland would land in an area where its physical features would match up perfect with the physical features of the land itself. The indentation of land on Skyland would lineup with the hill, and the river on Skyland would line up with a lake on the ground. The hill of something of interest as the Champions could see a small camp there.
Moving closer to investigate they could see a couple dozen human on this camp. Half looking up toward Skyland and the other half working as watching for something. They noticed the Champions approach but did not seem alarmed.
They were a strange sort, and introduced themselves as The Followers, explaining that they had tapped into powers the world has never seen before, a force that has been here for all of eternity and that predates Ao.
The asked if the champions were associated with the Believers, claiming that the Ancient Believers are mindless creatures devoid of free will, who don’t understand us and therefore fear us.
The Champions didn’t have a lot of time as Skyland was about to set down on earth. The Followers continued to watch an area to the east of them where the Believers were camped. As the Followers started to prepare to ascend onto Skyland several of the Champions saw similarities in what they were wearing with that of a statue of the Scourge that they found in the ruins in the Talenth Forest.
There was no time to do anything, the Skyland touched down and the Followers began to climb onto it while in the distance, the Ancient Believers started to move forward. The Followers began to explore the area in front of the town, marveling at all the wonders of Skyland.
The group got to take a quick glance at the Skyland Pillar before the Ancient Believers appeared to square off with the Followers, claiming that they “had sold their souls for power, and they spread like a disease that must be wiped out.”
The two sects of warlocks fought as the Champions of Elon snuck into the small town, and lowered the portcullis shut. About at this time the Skyland began to shudder, a great horn blasted, and a magical symbol appeared above the archway to the town, every minute or so it would change. The Champions correctly assumed this was a countdown until Skyland lifted off from the earth once again. Quickly, they spread out and made a search with haste.
Throughout the search the Champions were able to learn the numbers of this mysterious language they had seen from inside the pillars and from Triton 714.
Here is a master list of things found on Skyland:
Theren Strongbow – Tudor Houses
- A petrified mouse
- An understanding of architecture
- A brass orb etches with strange runes
- A small idol depicting a nightmarish creature
- A suit of +1 chain shirt
- Book of Beasts
- A small mechanical crab that moves about when it is not observed
- Divine scrolls of Enhance Ability (2nd), Water Walk (3rd), Control Water (3rd)
Illyria – Marketplace and Guard Towers
- A set of scales that balances value between goods and coin
- A tiny cage with no door
- A gold coin minted in a far off land
- Arcane Scroll: Dispel Magic (3rd), Fire Shield (4th), Geas (5th)
- Knowledge of winches and pulleys
- The fact that no one has lived here in 1000 years
- A collection of halbreds and glaives
- Navigator tools
Cil – Grey House and Towers
- Field Notes of Vadix Aquillius
- Details on how to remove and replace infusing stones
- A glass orb filled with moving smoke
- A silver key of unknown origins on a leather chord
- A small doll that brings back fond memories when held
- White Infusing Stone
- Greatsword of Ao
Doakiln – Towers
- A glass bottle with a galleon in it, floating on water
- A wooden cane that when placed on the ground stands perfect straight
- A spyglass
- A compass that points north by northeast
- 100 platinum pieces
- Enough equipment to start an alchemical brewery
- A 6-inch diameter gear made of copper
- Jewel of the Pillar
- A Platinum Crown
The clock was ticking, and with just a few minutes left, the Champions rose the portcullis and darted out. At this point there was only a handful of warlocks still fighting, which they quickly dispatched. Doaklin tested the Pillar of Skyland by putting the Jewel of the Pillar in it. Sure enough, it lite up and the door opened. This is the view he saw from there.
The decision was made that they would leave this pillar powered on and Rand would remain behind, since they had another one they could use for the Jayt Valley Pillar to return to Skyland.
The Champions got off the Skyland just before it took off for the skies once again. Slipping through the chaos on the ground between the two factions, the Champions returned to the Chaytan with the Unlocked Knowledge of the Warlock class.
From here they sailed north and around the northwestern corner of Brind-Amor. This area is known as the Storm Coast where terrible weather wreaks havoc on the open waters. They managed to pull through, gaining valuable knowledge on how to sail in rough waters.
The Champions returned to Elon, being gone for over a year, to a huge celebration. The Council and Elders and the House of Scribe both interviewed everyone a number of times to gather as much information as they could from the heroes expedition. The Champions showed them the Jewel of the Pillar but decided to keep this in their possession for now.
Three years had passed. Progress was made on many of the Skyland Objects found by the Champions. Emissaries had been sent to most of the other cities to learn more and improve relationships. Scholar Jorm made several treks out the pillar here to study it with Acolyte Gallus got over his disappointment in what he saw on Skyland, and set up a modest temple to Ao. But troubling news was right around the corner.
They had rallied around a new leader, stronger and more charismatic than any of his predecessors. Urzog the Conqueror had united the various minor tribes of the orcs in the Kainin Mountains and brought them under one banner, and with one purpose. To take over Brind-Amor for themselves.
Their on-and-off again relationship with the Black Bear Clan had come to an end and the Doombringer Orcs sought revenge for what they felt were bad deals. They march to Brind-Amor to begin their campaign of destruction.
The Council of Elders deliberated and decided that Elon must join their distrusted cousins in the Medgar Plains. Nigrum Ursus had the largest army and is the only city with walls. The free people of Elon will never stand a chance on their own, but with a coalition of combined forces, perhaps they could stand up to the orcs and quell their dreams of conquest once and for all in Nigrum Ursus.
The story continues in A Prelude to War.