The Ancient Lands

8-7-08 - Enter the Ancient

After opening the doorway using the two small keys in the shape of a trident, the party saw onto a 10 ft wide platform, 30 ft long, that lead to a 30 ft x 30 ft x central platform. The room around the central platform was 80 ft per side, and on fire.

 After an intensely long debate, Marc the Red former gladiator of Rome, decided to use the last dose of the stone salve on the statue of a 'man' standing in the center of the large platform, obviously researching the floor. 

 Having awoken from his 10,000 year entrapment in stone, Naencrau looked around at his surroundings. Upon seeing Basillius and Valar (the elf and dwarf, respectively) he immediately began casting a spell. Seeing this, the party reacted. It was obvious to Basillius that this statue made man was after him, so he went on the offensive. Naencrau reacted by casting the 'Miracle' spell, which unexplicably failed. After failing to cast any of his alloted spells or being able to activate any of his magical accoutrements, he fell to the party rogue, who knocked him unconscious while Naencrau was grappled by Marc the Red.

 During the combat, Estes, the parties Druid and Desert Survival Guide, left. Not only did he leave the room in which the fight was going on, but he left Posiedon's Temple and came to know that most of the water of the lake that fed the Nile, was gone, and the Nile was completely empty.

 Waking up the next morning bound and gagged (and seemingly drained of some Constitution) Naencrau was questioned by our stalwart group of heroes. After an exchange of questions and answers it was found out that  Naencrau was from a time before the cataclysm that has turned the once fertile land of Egypt into the barren desert that it is today.

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8-14-08 - Decisions

As Estes left the temple, he returned to an offshoot of his tribe located in the deserts 'nearby'. He did not speak of his leaving a group of people, nor of how he got the camels he had in his posession (all of the party's camels).

Back at Poseidon's Temple the remainder of the party continued to question Naencrau, not trusting him, or his story. After a while, the party convinced the main protester,  Basillius, to free Naencrau so that they could continue with their task. With Naencrau's help they were able to locate a hidden door with allowed them direct access to the other four corners of the Temple. Unfortunately, they discovered that the other corners had already been dessicated. They found several items, and then returned to the Souther Pharoah, who had promised to send them to her ancestral lands. 

 After hearing the groups story, and with what they know that the prophecy says, they 'suggest' that the party should recover their survival guide, and the Pharoah has them instantly transported to nearby the campsite of the nomads. The nomads, prepare for a battle, but send out an emisary (an old man, which would be little loss to the nomads if the party should choose to become hostile) to discuss the reason for their intrusion on their oasis. After hearing their story, the nomads send out [[:8589 | Estes].  Estes reluctantly agrees to return to the path that has been set out for him by the gods, and returns with the group to the Southern Pharoah's palace. From there, they depart, magically, for another land…..

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8-21-08 - Welcome to the Jungle

After stepping onto the Southern Pharoah's teleportation platform they appeared in thick jungles, and in the middle of a battle between several very large and feral looking Tigers and a rainbow feathered winged serpent. The tigers, seeing what they believed to be easier prey, turn and attack the party. After defeating the Dire Tigers, the Couatl and the party talk, and the Couatl warns the PC that she will be 'watching' them before fading from view.

 The party, unsure of exactly where they need to go, begin to explore this new region of the world that they have found themselves in. After several days of wandering they stumble upon a small opening in the ground. This opening turned out to be a moss covered set of stairs that let into the earth. Slowly the descended the 30' into the earth, not knowing what awaits them.

 Upon the parties arrival into the dank dark tunnel, they discover a tunnel to their right and a cavern to the left with a small pool of water in it. Valar advanced through the small tunnel and was attacked by a brain with tentacles. Shortly after being defeated a mummy awoke from the pool and attacked.  Estes animal companion, as well as  Naencrau, acquired mummy rot. Basillius was only able to cure one of them, at the cost of the only copy of a scrol (as a reminder, scrolls are difficult to create or come by in the Ancient world). 

 Having saved one companion (despite not really wanting to) Basillius suggested exploring a little more before calling it a day. Moving further into the 'caverns' of this underground complex they found a 'cage' like setup deeper inside. Inside this cage were several other Couatl's. After freeing these fantastic creatures the first Couatl that the party met (and rescued from the Dire Tigers) appeared again. It had been following them. 

 The Couatl, as thanks for rescuing his family, granted each of the PC's a boon.

 Estes chose to gain a new animal companion, one of some power.(A young dire tiger)

 Aequora Manus – Hand of the Waters chose some additional training in a feat (two-weapon fighting)

 Basillius requested knowledge, and gained a +1 divine insight bonus to Knowlege: Planes, and Knowledge: Religion as well as knowledge about the region.

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History, as shared by Vermithrax

Vermithrax sits his head on his claws, making himself comfortable once again, before speaking.

    "Our legends state that the gods wrought life out of their own divine beings. This life was wide and varied, but not was equal to the gods themselves in 'perfect design'. Not being satisfied, the gods made an accord with each other, to work together to create a life-form as near to themselves as possible. This was the creation of the first of what one of you has termed 'ancients'."

    "The ancients, being the favored children and beloved of the gods, were taught things long lost to history. Years passed like days for the great children. The mightiest empire ever known grew from them, and it spanned the world over. However, the gift of 'giving life' was denied them, and this made some of them jealous of the gods."

     "They began to work in secret, hidden places of the earth that shielded them from the gods. Their experiments focused on different things. Thus came creatures that were long lived, similar to the ancients, or creatures that were versatile, and good at whatever they tried."

    "When these creatures came to the attention of the gods, they went mad with rage. They destroyed the entire ancient civilization in the span of a single day and night. Their greatest city was lost to the waves, never to see the light of day again."

    "Some of those that survived the destruction of their empire fought back. While others went into hiding, teaching 'their' children as they were taught. The ones that fought back were fighting a losing battle, so they unleashed a force the likes of which was never seen before. This force, or creature, was a destroyer of worlds. They thought they could control it, and turn it against the gods. But it was sly. It tricked them and once given sufficient power, killed its 'masters', and started to feed upon the world."

    "Meanwhile, the elder race began to intermix with their 'children', and the race, as a whole, faded away like a whisper."

    "The gods, upset at what their own creation, and their wrath, had caused, manipulated the 'stuff' of magic so that such atrocities would never be committed again."

 

 Basillius began to speak after a short lull.

 Thank you Great Prince Vermithrax for this information.  That does clarify some of the history, but raises many questions as well.  What was the dragons' role in this?  I assume dragons are one of the elder races created by an individual god before the creation of the ancients?  We've been told that the gods struck the dragons with some form of madness or bloodlust to help destroy the ancients.  Has that bloodlust passed, or was it just caused by the evil acts and arrogance of the ancients, and reason can now bring peace between us?  We have met one ancient, and having met one, I can see how they could drive all other races to madness with their arrogance.  Thankfully, he is with the Gods now.

What of the gods?  The gods have shown us favor and been good to us.  Apparently they bear no ill will to the descendents of those created by the ancients.  And what of the differences between us?  My people (elves) speak of having had our own gods and empires at one time, seperate from the humans.  Did this ever happen?  Who (or what) were the elven gods that they are gone now?  Basillius speaks up again.

Great Prince Vermithrax, you say the ancients counselled against you and the training you provided.  What training did you provide?  Our races are much weaker than those that faced the "treasure" when last he was free, but we have been chosen to face him.  We can use all the training we can get!

I understand dragons may harbor an anger with us, because of the evils of the ancients, to which we are unwittingly connected.  Can you help us in asuaging this anger in others of your kind?  We must rally forces to fight the "treasure," and obviously dragons are the mightest we know of.  The only others that can hope to be useful that we know of are the great sphinxes.  Do you know anything about them?  Are there other races or organizations of allies you think may still exist?  Was there any kind of alliance to defeat the "treasure" the last time he rose?  Has no one planned for his defeat in the aeon since his imprisonment?  Is there any assistance from the higher planes?

Also, we found this (point out Ted's new cloak/hat) in this complex.  Do you know what it is, what it does?

 

Vermithrax replies:

 I, and the very few others who shared my view, taught them how to use some of the innate gifts that some few creatures possess, like that of casting spells. I 'may' be able to open paths in yourselves that may otherwise be blocked, but I can not make you more capable than  you already are.

As far as others of my kind go, you are going to be on your own there. Most of my own kind considered me a traitor to our people. Any recommendation I might have been able to give at one time is long since gone to me. The gods did all of the organizing. Moving pieces, as if in a game of Shah, along the board until everything was set. Unfortunately, even the gods can miscalculate."

     "I don't know if they've done any planning in the eons since it's defeat. I honestly didn't even know it was 'imprisoned' until you said something, although I had my suspicions."

     "Yes, I know what that is, and what it does."

 Aequora Manus – Hand of the Waters speaks up for the first time:

 You mentioned unlocking pathways… It is said that this (genuflecting, and presenting Poseiden's Gift) can be unlocked at a holy place of dragons.  Do you know of this? And will you assist us?  Also, I initially needed to attune this, is there something that will need to be done with my companion's cloak & cowl?

 Vermithrax answers:

     "Yes, I know of such rituals that tie such items of power to those with the wherewithal to wield them. Usually they also require a sacrifice of some sort. If you believe you are willing to make the sacrifices necesary, then stup up to the altar behind me and submit yourself to the sight of my god, and see if you are worthy."

    "As for our young friend there," motioning towards Valar, "he will not have to perform such tasks. The items you compare are much different. That item, while old and somewhat powerful, does not have the capacity to grow as yours does. An ancient, who went by the name of Godsmar, created that cloak out of the first dragon he slew. Once per day, while the wearer is engaged in combat, they may call upon the spirit of the slain dragon within it. They will then roar like a mighty dragon, causing all enemies within 30 feet to believe for a moment that he is a ferocious dragon. They may become panicked and flee (Will DC 15 + CHA modifier). This is a supernatural, mind affecting, effect.

    "The item will also grant the wearer a bonus to attacks against their being (+4 resistance bonus to saves, increasing to +8 vs fear effects). If the wearer is also a Leader of some renown (Leadership feat) then the helmet bestows its prestige upon the wearer (+1 to leadership score). As you have no doubt already realized, the item takes up both the head and the cloak portions of your person. It is very valuable and likely still prized by many." (Moderate enchantment; CL 14th; Price 42,000gp; Weight 3 lbs.)

(This magic item is being modelled after the one found <a href="http://d20.jonnydigital.com/2008/03/drakes-helmet-relic">Here</a>. Only the history has been changed to fit this world.)

  Itzinal son of Tetzinal speaks up.

  "Prince Vermithrax.  You seem to be very knowledgable, indeed.  The gods of my people bade me to protect these travellers.  It seems that what they are seeking has repercussions of cosmic proportions.  And so I do so without question.  Is there anything that you can tell me that would aid me in keeping them safe while they complete their quest?  Particularly about the dragon's lands to the north?  After all, it is as they say… Knowledge is power.  And we will be travelling into a strange and powerful land."

 

 Vermithrax eyes flash brightly, momentarily blinding you, and his voice booms like thunder throughout the cavernous room.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN??! DRAGON LANDS TO THE NORTH??!  YOU ARE IN THE HEART OF DRACONIC LANDS!!!!!"
<!- ORIGINAL—>

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The Power of Chaos

After some more history being bestowed upon the party, Vermithrax offered the PC's a mere sample of the chaos that is part of the 'Treasure that must be Kept'.

 

Vermithrax had a small deck of tarot cards which he laid out upon the pedestal in front of the PCs. They discussed, heatedly, amongst themselves if they should draw or not and some of them decided to draw, for better or worse.

 

After drawing, many of the group had paths unlocked for them. However, once the last of the group went forward the Dragon statue breathed one final time, and the party was transported to, at least according to  Estes, another time.

 

The only thing in the area was a sphynx. An honest to goodness sphynx (one that has been extinct for generations, not one of the 7 immortal ones). After failing the opening question Basillius charmed the sphynx, learned about the trapped Sphynx Queen and the crown she commands (is it possible this is another item of power? One that could be used to retrap, or possibly destroy, the Treasure that must be Kept?) and entered here 'tomb'.

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