In the blink of an eye, we’re back in the mostly empty throne room. For a moment, everything is silent and then, all of a sudden, the ground beneath our feet begins to tremble. It feels like a massive earthquake, one that keeps going and going and gets worse as time goes on. The trembling gets so bad that we’re knocked to the ground, unable to stay on our feet.
As we stand and begin to run out of the room, we can feel our ears popping and the sensation of rising quickly. We head out of the front doors and run into scores of guards. At first, they don’t see us, as they’re looking towards the gates. Soon enough, however, they notice us because we begin running towards them and engage them.
While we’re fighting, Jack climbs up on a platform and is able to see the city far below us—several hundred feet at least.
Eventually we defeat all but one, leaving the last alive because he surrenders. By this point, the ground is shaking much less until, suddenly, everything stops. It’s clear that there is no way out of the gates, nor the way we came—that is, underground. The palace and the land that it sits upon has been torn from the ground beneath and is rising steadily further away. Targoth attempts to determine if there’s magic at work and, if so, what type. What he’s able to figure out is that the palace has been lifted into the air by some incredibly powerful and non-mortal magic—someone like Viri or her caliber—and that the magic feels demonic in nature, definitely from another plane.
Since we can neither go down nor out—and remaining in the palace is out of the question—we head upwards towards the battlements.
Once we reach the top, we have a much better view of what’s happened and it’s clear that, by now, we’re a thousand feet up and continuing to rise and move away from the city. But we’re not at all sure how to get down—it’s clear we’re going to need help of some kind, though where we’re going to get it is anyone’s guess.
While we’re up there attempting to work out how to get off, we’re attacked by guards, which are hideously transformed into demons. While we’re fighting, Aideena casts a spell of fire and, as she does so, hears a word in primordial—“Imix”—but she’s not sure what it means.
We’re getting tired and it’s getting more and more difficult to fend off attacks, but we’re in luck; out of nowhere, a great winged shadow flies overhead. It’s a large silver dragon, and it dives at our remaining attackers, clearing them away.
The dragon is an elder wyrm and, to our shock, lands and greets Targoth. The dragon is Saresh and he’s come to our rescue, proposing to fly us back down to the city. We climb on his back gratefully, wary of the fact that one of his wings looks burned, and begin to fly away from the palace.
As we make our escape, jets of fire rain down on us as arrows fly up at us. It’s clear that we’re in an untenable position and we’ll need to get off as soon as possible. Saresh flies near some rooftops and tells us to run across them towards the Scriveners’ Academy, where we should be safe and protected.
Saresh makes another pass of the rooftops and I’m the first to jump, landing safely. I’m quickly joined by the rest of the party.
From here, it’s difficult to miss the palace floating in the sky. It had been built upon a tor, which was then surrounded by Eastwind—the district where most of the nobility and wealthy citizens lived. But now, the entire tor has been ripped from the ground and Eastwind has been reduced to rubble.
We can’t take much time to gawp, though, as there are a number of guards who have turned their focus from Saresh to us and begin to attack. Jack and I are able to make our way quickly across the rooftop, unfortunately getting separated from our party in the process. As a result, we’re somewhat overmatched when we’re attacked by a demon.
The demon proceeds to hurl me off the roof; luckily, I fall through a roof and into another building, my location obscured from the demon.
While my compatriots continue to fight the demons and guards, I take a look at my surroundings. I’ve landed on a pile of expensive looking cloth. As I explore a bit, I see more fine goods—expensive cloth, lace, tiny boxes, masks, some mannequins—as well as crates and chests.
My party is able to kill the demon that dropped me and, once the danger has temporarily passed, I make them aware of my location and we quickly scavenge what we can from the room. As we’re searching the room for goods, we hear footsteps coming towards us. Jack and I make it up the rope before anyone comes, but the rest of the party does not. Lucky, the people who open the door are looking to lead us to the Scriveners’ Academy and Saresh.
Once we get there, we meet up with Saresh, now in humanoid form once more, and begin to discuss what on earth happened. We come to realize that the king has re-sworn the Anathema, the pact originally sworn by Bael Turath to the Nine Hells which led to the tiefling race’s creation and the war with Arkhosia, which is really bad news. Targoth asks Saresh about the wings and the standard he found in the King’s throne room, which we then find out is the Unconquered Standard of Arkhosia, which had been lost when Arkhosia fell and should never have been in the king’s throne room with the other vanquished standards.
Saresh also recognizes Targoth as the Many from the prophecy, explaining that he suspected this might be the case, but that all of the evidence—particularly Targoth’s visions—makes it certain. He tells Targoth: “You are our empire’s truest heir, the descendant of the great Maekrix Ageash Haurach, the Scion of Arkhosia. You embody the multifaceted jewel that was our ancient and lost realm. And your task, Targoth Ornkear Fastclaw, son of Korinn and Balthasar, is to bring the might of Arkhosia to bear once more down upon our nemeses.”
After we’re done talking, Saresh picks up a metal paperweight carved in the shape of a dragon from his desk and reveals a wall with symbols on it. He traces the Ikhoric words “karak irthos,” which mean “last secret,” on the wall. A door opens and, beyond that, there’s a long dark staircase that we climb, finally emerging into a circular room. The spire lacks windows, but what really draws the eye at the very top is the floor, as there are many symbols on it.
Saresh informs us that there are portals here, ones he’s been using to investigate the missing dragonborn. His investigation has revealed little—only that dragonborn generally go missing in ones or pairs, that nothing is ever found besides tracks leading southward and that the phenomenon seems to have been occurring over the course of a year. All of the clues he’s found lead him to conclude that answers might be found to the south. This resonates with Jack, who feels two pulls—one much stronger than the other, but both are generally pulling him south. He knows that they’re pearls and that one of them is Onath.
Saresh explains a few of the portals’ destinations, saying: “I have spent many years traveling as far as my wings would take me, preparing for a time when I would need to travel quickly across the continent. Here there are portals scattered across the far corners of Vaalbara. You see, this continent is much vaster than just the kingdom of Dakkon, or even the combined kingdoms of Dakkon and Hazen. There is the vast Frostmarch to the north and the blasted, war-torn lands of the Sighing Desert to the south. But beyond those lay lands more unknown still to most who live. A jungle realm overseen by regents awaiting the return of their Eternal Queen. A warring string of impoverished city-states sliding into a dark sea. An archipelago of fiefdoms dominated by captains, alchemists, privateers and slavers. Vor Kragal, the City of Ash, and the vast Hanging City of Andok Sur. These portals will take you to many places you may want to go, and to places where you must.”
We discuss our next course of action, but we all agree that we need to inform Navuul what’s happened in case he doesn’t yet know. So we enter through the portal and find ourselves in a clearing close to the road to Tal Morai.
As we look around, we see a massive encampment—Prince Navuul’s army, which is large but motley. Before we have a chance to do much, we’re accosted by a couple of sentries who demand to know what we’re doing. Explaining that we’re here to see the Prince is met with derision, so I show him Jalmari’s signet ring, which convinces the sentries to take us into the encampment to see the Prince.
The Prince greets us and we go into his tent to discuss everything that’s happened. Prince Navuul is aware of the floating palace and is disturbed by it. We proceed to brief him on everything that’s happened since we last saw him, including Jalmari’s death.
The Prince is surprisingly optimistic, saying that Jalmari could still be alive, that we can’t believe he’s truly dead without a body and that Jalmari has beaten the odds before. I try not to hope too much and, indeed, am incredibly skeptical about whether he could be alive or not.
We ask after some of our friends and find out some horrible news; that Solange has just managed to make contact, but that Helena has been taken, possibly to the Nine Hells.
Jack’s face goes white and hard at the news. We’re all stunned and saddened on his behalf, even the Prince, who hangs his head a bit. It’s difficult for him because the king is his father, the king’s top generals are his brothers—but they’re responsible for his sisters’ deaths—especially Fiamma—and that leads him to conclude that the next course of action is clear: he needs us to assassinate his brothers.
Despite the fact that Jack feels bound to do as the Raven Queen commands—as she’s told him she wants us to hunt down the pearls as soon as possible—we’re all in agreement with the Prince. It’s well-known that Crown Prince Ashtar is a supporter of his father’s and has probably sworn a pact with the same demon his father has, but we also suspect that the youngest prince—Tanaidred—is following in Ashtar’s footsteps.
We decide that, after a rest, we’ll begin on our quest to assassinate both brothers. Ashtar is still in Orran and Tanaidred is now in Riversend. It’s also clear that Easar cannot be left to the king, but it’s important to do away with much of the power support he has in this world.
After we’ve decided on that course of action and that we’ll be heading to Riversend after a rest, we go to bed down for the night in the camp.