Upon finding a secret passageway through the caves of the ancient Giants, we raced along with barely a moment to catch our breath. We came to a stairway leading up into a new and somehow even more mysterious area. Zan, as per what now seems to be tradition, trudged his way up and exposed the danger of the room to the rest of us. It appeared that there were some cultists lurking in the dark corners, as cowards often do. They weren’t a huge challenge to our group and were easily dealt with. We kept true to the threats Runa shouted to them, for the black sun did indeed set that night!
We collected what we could from that battle, but we didn’t have much time to examine in detail the use of any of those items. We moved along to yet another span of the caves. That was where we found Jam (that’s his nickname because Emessha said he loved to eat jam). He stood before us calmly and coldly. He spoke in common but his words were clearly not his own. He was owned by another force, his life now dedicated to serving Naarash and feeding his ever-growing thirst for power. He stood atop a staircase leading to a pedestal topped with a red rock-like structure, glowing and emitting arcane power. As we entered the room, he told us to “please, have a seat and rest”. He gestured to a small sitting area and a suspicious goblet of wine, insisting that we rest because we wouldn’t have been enough of a challenge to him in our current state. I examined the “wine” and although he claimed it was not poison in one form or another it had a suspicious aura and I couldn’t lower myself to the point of trusting a possessed creature like this….my company on the other hand, drank and felt rejuvenated and full of power…so I guess he kept his word that it wouldn’t harm us, but I don’t regret not partaking for I felt no need to. I do not trust the power granted by the hand of an enemy.
The great battle had begun and as we fought we attacked not only Jam, but also the arcane forces we believed to be controlling him. We believed that attacking the stone behind him and destroying it might have been able to free him from the spell he was seemingly under. We even went so far as to have Runa touch her holy symbol to it, with hopes of casting out the evil forces, however…the forces were strong and as she did, she was thrown from it. We fought Jam, but gently….for we did not want to kill him. Our fight was not with him. We all made attempts to remind him of his past and although he seemed to hear us, he didn’t have the authority to stop the demonic influence over him. It often just angered him and made him stronger. In a final attempt I said “we admit your powerful, but Emmesha holds the promise of an even greater power, that of the path of light.” It was after I said that, that his face showed genuine remorse and he fell to knees. He muttered what sounded like an apology to Il’yena before pulling the talisman from his own neck. Despite writhing in pain for a moment on the cave floors, he died a noble and heroic death. He knew it was the only way and we gathered his cloak with the symbol of the path of light so that we may return it to Emesha and tell her the tale of her friend’s final moments. I know that although she will be filled with great sorrow upon losing her friend, she can find comfort in knowing that he returned to the path of light before he fell.
As beautiful as that small moment of triumph may have been, it didn’t last long. The stone upon the pedestal exploded into a burst of flames and finally we met our true battle with the demon scum himself…Naarash. He was even uglier than I could have imagined (no wonder he chooses to possess others). He spoke to us saying “you have defeated my champion, who will claim my power”…after some awkward silence of thinking ‘is this thing joking right now?’ we all denied his “offer”. The fowl-looking Balgura couldn’t take a hint and just leave so he decided to pick a fight with the lot of us despite the fact that we just killed his “champion”. Gotta love a stubborn creature that willingly seeks out it’s own destruction like that. We battled for a good while before a final swing of Zan’s axe put an end to the creature, causing him and the eye of Naarash to dissipate in a blood red flash of light and smoke. Nothing remained but a scorch mark of where the demon had fallen…and some residium, a necklace, and a magical sword.
It wasn’t long after we looted the bodies that a gnome, calling himself Jodelenessus, appeared wearing some pretty spiffy clothing. He informed us that he and his friend (whom he referred to as the “great hunter” with a slight under-tone of mockery/sarcasm) had been watching us and following our adventures. Naturally we bombarded him with questions for his appearance was timely and strange. He explained that his friend whom he had mentioned “takes many forms”, so I asked what her favorite tends to be and he took what seemed to be a shot in the dark and picked Elf. The last thing this group needs to encounter is another stinking shape-shifter…but…at least this one is on our side. He also mentioned that her name was something like “Rhiopax”, I didn’t ask him how to spell it, as I thought it would seem rude that we’re already keeping tabs on himself and his friend. We asked about what brought them together in their comradeship and he explained that they had a common goal. He seemed a bit uneasy discussing matters in this cave and told us we can seek him out for further information in the library of “Correnburg” (again didn’t question spelling for it will reveal itself in time). He pointed us to a safe passage through a cave system and ensured us that he can take a message (and some form of payment) to our friend Glassor for being so brave and reliable. Also he claimed he would send a message to this Rhiopax to start tracking L’arc. So as he disappeared into a puff of purple mist, we began our journey through the next channel of the cave…