Ashes of the Empire

Basement Dweller

Session 28 Recap

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  • The party is welcomed in the Vale, and given the opportunity to clean up, refresh, and eat. After, they have more conversations with Lu’s family (her uncle the regent, her cousin the captain of the guards, and her other cousin, a wizard and scholar

  • Lu began the process of bequeathing lands to the Vistani per her agreement with “Handsome” Jack.

  • Talks with Istiria Zolerii revealed that Lu was researching information about how one “Domain of Dread”, as places cursed like the Vale are known, was believed to have escaped and reversed its curse. Little was written about it in most places, that was why Lu had left before – to find somewhere where more information could be found.

  • The heroes also discussed the palace basement. They believe that there is some entity lurking in the chambers below, something Ulmo confirms. The eladrin admit to the occasional feeling of “creepiness” when it was still in use, but no one has experienced anything else while down there.

  • Vaerlan states that the stairs to the basement were collapsed many years ago, upon Lu’s orders, but he knows of another way to get in via the storage cellars. He agrees to show the party how.

  • The party makes its plans to enter the next morning, after a good night’s rest. Neighl and Luna steal away that night, to be alone.

  • On the morrow, the party prepares to sally forth into the old servant’s quarters while Luna stays behind to begin wedding preparations.

  • The party ventures into the storage cellar and enters the old servant’s quarters via a small door used by servants to access the storeroom. Upon entering, Ulmo enters a state of concentration in order to try and locate the source of the evil he has been feeling.

  • The adventurers move through rooms long-abandoned, and are interrupted by a group of shades. The battle is tough, as the foul creatures’ insubstantial nature makes them difficult to hit. However, the heroes eventually win and destroy the creatures.

  • Heading deeper into the abandoned halls, the party encounters a vampire lurking in one of the rooms. The vampire, one of the murdered servants returned to the scene, launches into a hate-fueled attack on Lu as swarms of awakened rot grubs gather from cracks in the walls and floor. The heroes fight well and the enemies are vanquished with little trouble.

  • Finally, the party comes to the chambers of the head servant. It is here that Ulmo says that the entity lurks. He explains, before the party enters, that he must force the entity to reveal itself in order for it to be vanquished. He surmises that it has no reason to make itself vulnerable here, so it must be forced to. But, he explains, that it is of the utmost importance that he maintain complete concentration on making the entity reveal itself. If he waivers, even for a moment, the entity will disappear and regain part of its strength.

  • The battle begins shortly upon entering, but as soon as the party strikes the entity they discover that because of Ulmo’s link to the creature, any harm they cause it will be caused to Ulmo in return. The pain does not break Ulmo’s concentration, thankfully, but falling unconscious would do so.

  • Suddenly, the battle has become much more difficult as the party has to be careful to hurt the entity only enough to where they can heal Ulmo and begin their assault again.

  • After a long and protracted battle, the heroes finally win out by the narrowest of margins. At the end, Ulmo lay unconscious but alive. The creature, however, was down.

  • As the entity faded away, defeated, another revealed itself. The spirit of Lu’s mother, Jhanandra, executed for her crimes long ago, appeared before the party and explained herself.

  • She told of how, long ago, she made a pact with this entity “He of Many Faces”. The knowledge and power it granted her was useful and The Vale and her people flourished because of that. Over time, though, the entity’s demands became more distasteful and Jhanandra sought a way to break her pact with it.

  • So, Jhanandra performed a powerful ritual to banish “He of Many Faces” and break the pact. It seemed to work and she went about her business for the next several years. What she did not realize, however, was that the entity was only diminished and the link was not severed.

  • When the entity was finally able to reform itself, it sought to get revenge on Jhanandra. It kept its distance, and used the link between itself and Jhanandra to corrupt and shatter her mind. It used nightmares, sleep deprivation, visions, and other things to make his former supplicant seem to be losing her mind.

  • When Jhanandra finally snapped and killed the servants in their sleep, “He of Many Faces” reveled in its victory. As Jhanandra was executed, it allowed her a single clear moment where it revealed that it was not her own doing, but rather its, that caused this; just to torture her in her final moments.

  • Unknown evil powers within the Shadowfell took notice of these events and moved into the Vale. Mists crept from the borders and engulfed the land and its people. A new Domain of Dread was created and with it, its new master: “He of Many Faces”.

  • As Jhanandra’s spirit left her body, the clarity she was given by “He of Many Faces” allowed her to sense all of this happening. Her people would be trapped in this doomed realm, tortured for an eternity by this entity she brought here. She could not abide by that. So, in an act of desperation, she used what remained of the fast-receding link to “He of Many Faces” and bound her spirit to it. If she could not defeat it, she could suppress it and at least give her trapped people a chance at a somewhat normal life without this cruel being acting as overlord.

  • The spirit of Jhanandra explained that this is how the entity came to be trapped in the basement, and why it could not reveal itself. Jhanandra’s spirit kept it from manifesting its power in the Vale, something that the party just unwittingly ruined.

  • Since the entity cannot truly die within the Vale, the spirit explained, it will only be diminished for a time, and will eventually return. Unfortunately for the Vale, it will no longer be bound by Jhanandra’s spirit when it does return – that link is now well and truly severed. Instead, when it returns, it will be able to exert its will over its domain, finally.

  • The spirit begged for Lu to find some way to break the curse and free their people.

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