Guardians of the Stair


  • stairs carved of jade inlaid with gold and mother of pearl
  • There’s an air of sanctity and serenity – unseen wind chimes ring in the air rung by unseen vultures
  • Huge gap in the stair – no way across
  • small diases – one empty, the other an ageless monk
  • Our arrival wakes her – she unfolds and opens her eyes – a
  • my name is Azura – Are you pilgrims to the masters below?
  • She speaks slowly and says she has been here a long time
  • Legion says they are here to seek answers from the Masters below
  • She says
  • the gap is way too far to jump – even if you could – the air seems ‘thicker’
  • these stairs are the stairs of a dream – step forward and walk into the void, and walk into the land of dream, but first choose – I can dream for you, or one of you can choose to stay behind, and dream for your friends to cross – you will cross surely too
  • The heroes decide that giving the Dream Masters access to even one of them would be too dangerous – they decide to let Azura  dream for us
  • Legion says his dreams are too dark
  • She bows, and puts her hands in front of her chest
  • Thank you for honouring me with your trust – She gets back up on the dias, in lotus position – concentrating – for a full 2min and nothing’s happening – she’s barely breathing, but the Legion sees it first -a ghostly bridge spans the gap now
  • her voice now, in your heads – now, wander the realm of dream to get to that other side.
  • Legion tests the bridge with his staff – it’s substantial enough – a telepathic chuckle

MONTAGE!

Our subconsciouses arise:

  1. A woman wearing armour bearing the heraldry of the Emperor, wandering blindfolded, surrounded by the Dragonics
  2. the heroes wandering, swirling whirlpools ahead of them, distorting their faces, like they’re other people, like an acid trip
  3. as the heroes walk, they start surrounded by different colours from gold to blues, reds, a swirling mass around them – an image of two dragons facing each other, eyeing the party, looking down like a chess match, the heroes like pieces in the game – one dragon is the ggw, the other one changes between the three, like a massive hydra
  4. tings transforming into ….. anything we see other than ourselves, everything is turning into stone… everything our eyes fall on – we’re able to walk through, it starts off a wooden house, but then it turns into stone – still able to move forward, but almost as if everything
  5. The scene opens with a rich, palatial receiving room, armours, weapons, tapestries, riches from all races, creeds, a couple, holding hands
  • moving along a narrow path in a mountain range
  • see monasteries
  • 13 statues, 12 of which represent the endings of the previous 12 ages
  • 1st status – wizard king – bone-white flowers spring from
  • other statues
  • are those werewolves?  diseased people?  mirrors?
  • 13th status – frother protean mud – keeps bubbling into shapes – sometimes the eyes of the stone thief stare out of you, sometimes the dripping axe of the orc lord, at one point, it shifts and steams, the red – sometimes the figure turns into the archmage, another time, a white, featureless mask with tentacles  – it reaches up and tears the mask off – and you are shocked!
  • On a path again – monstrous snake-headed figures moving towards you – surely from Azura’s subconscious

ENGAGE!

Merian ⊕ uses a Positive 5 with The Great Gold Wyrm ⊕ to aid her by granting her a dream to relocate herself in the midst of the horror creatures

  • As the last snake falls, a familiar image appears to the heroes
  • The gaunt figure of Pheig appears in the dreamscape with the heroes
  • L: IU was wondering
  • PH: sometimes you pass out of my sight.  but here, gestures around here.  There is little that hags cannot see in this dreamscape
  • she is old, but I am older still.  what you just fought, picking up one of their hands (whispers a word in language we don’t understand) this is what inhabiting deep in her soul.
  • You are going deep into the dungeon to find the rite of binding, yes
  • we have not changed our plans at all
  • good, good, a bit of advice my friends: once you leave the stair, you will find yourself at a monument of the ages
  • you will yourself tempted by these artefacts – do not take the bat

  • The heroes arrive on the other side, wondering why the warning was so dire from Chyraxes – perhaps because we told her our purpose was benign to her wanting The Stone Thief to achieve its purpose…
  • Legion cannot shake the feeling that there is a… taint… on you. Like, somehow Ajura‘s subconscious manifestations have left an imprint on you…
  • Arrive at a temple, ruined… but clearly not abandoned – torchlight stand the smell of food on a stove
  • the door to the temple is closed, but there’s a cord that suggests you can ring for service.
  • Nidalru sees a stocky human with a well-groomed beard… cooking.  Very clearly wearing the clothes of the cult of the devourer… seems to be alone
  • Nothing seems out of the ordinary – a man in a makeshift small kitchen… seems very casual
  • Legion checks for magical auras (traps) and finds one on the door, but it’s very faint.
  • using mage hand, he rings the rope and a voice calls out from within, “Come in!”  The door magically open, and the heroes enter inside

Maeglor the Apostate

  • “I’m in here” call from behind a door
  • Hello, hungry? I’m cooking fish
  • Why yes, actually.
  • When’s the last time you’ve had a hot meal
  • been a while
  • looking at the heroes – you’re not alone, are you?  Tell them to come in, there’s enough for everybody
  • the heroes enter, wary of their surroundings
  • three of you?  what about those two?
  • The strange dwarf sets the table and serves
  • Where does one get fish? gestures to the ceiling there are orcs up there
  • ew show him the piece of the cloak
  • they don’t need anything – they forgot what it’s like to be on the surface

There are murals that trace the history of the cult

let me give you a bit of a history lesson – have patience – I want you to understand

  1. The first mural shows the exile of the ancestors of the cult. An Emperor of old—possibly the Wizard King himself, although Maeglor insists that the Wizard King was traditionally depicted with a staff, not a sceptre—gestures toward a glowing portal held open by a previous Archmage. An armored knight forces those first cultists—who, according to the mural, at any rate, are wise scholars, sensitive artists, philosophers, puppy-lovers, and brave heroes to a man—through the portal.
  2. The second mural shows the cult wandering through a strange land, being menaced by demons and other monsters. Defended by a ring of armed warriors, the leaders of the cult gather in a circle to swear an oath of vengeance directed at the Emperor and his lackeys.
  3. The third panel in the mural shows the cult dividing. Some return to the Empire in secret, while others continue to travel the world. Maeglor draws the character’s attentions to the magical symbols in one part and speculates that the cult learned mystical rites unknown in the Dragon Empire.
  4. The fourth panel shows the cult sorcerers building a magical fortress in a desert.
  5. The fifth shows that fortress being devoured from below by the Stone Thief. At this point, Maeglor wonders aloud if the cultists learned of the living dungeon when it consumed their sanctum, or if they knew about the dungeon already and lured it with a prize the Thief couldn’t resist. Other cultists surround the dungeon, stabbing it with what appear to be spears.
  6. The sixth panel shows the cult leaders communing with the dungeon. There are more magical glyphs in this panel, which show the cult knows rites to summon the Stone Thief.
  7. The seventh panel shows the Stone Thief devouring places of power across the Empire, guided by the cult
  8. The eighth panel depicts the cult preparing to bind the Stone Thief.
  9. The ninth panel shows the great treachery—a shadowy figure flees the dungeon, carrying with him two gleaming gemstones of incalculable worth. It must be the Prince of Shadows carrying away the Eyes of the Stone Thief.
  10. The tenth panel shows the cult leaders gathering once more, in a pattern similar to that shown in the second mural. From this panel, though, it is clear they have been warped and changed by their time in the dungeon, becoming something far from the humans they once were. They send out dreams to the other branches of the cult.
  11. The eleventh panel shows pilgrims descending the dungeon. Actually, it mostly shows pilgrims dying horribly at the claws of monsters and the spikes of traps as they battle through the dungeon, but one band of pilgrims makes it to a building that resembles this very temple. These pilgrims have been drawn to resemble the original exiled ancestors of the cult, and carry with them treasures and symbols of power.
  12. The twelfth panel shows the dungeon gorging itself on the sources of power matching those symbols, guided by the cult. The dungeon has grown vastly since the fifth panel.
  13. The thirteenth and final panel depicts the Devourer. In this mural, the living dungeon is big enough to swallow the whole Empire. The Emperor and the Archmage cower as the god dungeon consumes them. The cult leaders stand in a circle atop the dungeon, like a crown on a dragon’s head, one with their monstrous progeny/prison, and glorious and triumphant amid universal devastation.
  • They are crazy – they want to rule a barren wasteland
  • deeper into the thief than this, you just meet crazy
  • N: Then why are you still here?
  • Maeglor: I’m still here because they want to see if I regain my faith.  I have plenty of faith, don’t get me wrong… my ancestors were exiled by the Empire.  Same as those down there, and sure I’d love to get some vengeance, even if the current emperor isn’t a direct…. well.  Their plan is apocalyptic.  They haven’t asked themselves what will they do when they win?  Oh and so *I’m* the apostate… whatever!
  • That’s THEIR perspective but from MINE… I’m here to act as a guardian to people going further down… but some people, well, depending on whether or not we see eye to eye, I can let them go down…
  • maybe what I describe doesn’t happen… maybe it turns into a fairy tale… maybe something more useful happens instead… like splitting control of the stone thief?
  • Nidalru: How to make that happen?
  • Maeglor: Soon it will come to pass – the Secret Masters are going to bind the dungeon from within.  But with the right hands guiding things, instead of destroying, it could create.  In the right hands, the stone thief could be useful – devour the lich king fortress, devour the orc lord’s forces, instead of the dull plans of the secret masters, where they rule over a wasteland, they would see the potential for so much more.
  • So… maybe I let you go, you eliminate the secret masters, and make way for me to take the reins.  I don’t want to destroy the world –
  • Nidalru: Have you seen the black dragonic?
  • Maeglor: Honestly, no… but I can’t say that I well… if it’s a black dragonic… trained by The Black herself, if he wanted to slip past me unseen, it’s probably going to happen.
  • I’m sure you don’t want an agent of the blue in charge… if she think s
  • I can get you to the Secret Masters…
  • L: It sounds like these ideas ar long thought
  • Maeglor: I’
  • I do the anointing for each of you.  Stops the secret masters from looking into your soul to see you who are.  It’s an initiation ceremony.  Then you’ll have access to places you’ll otherwise not be able to, and it will let you get close
  • L: It sounds like we have a lot in common – more than we thought we would when we talked to Jac
  • Maeglor: she likes to wait, I’m not willing to. I make my own moves – she’s scared
  • Do we have an agreement?  I anoint you, I let you through, you wipe out the Secret Masters
  • Idris: I refuse to do it
  • Puki, sensing there would be a stain on his soul, declined as well
  • ENGAGE!
Author: Turnerbuds

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