Our Grugach allies in the Otobo jungle led us to the cave where Ranet’s remains were said to have been hidden. We found ourselves in a curious, and enormous, maze filled with all manner of amazing things. Whomever had set up the cavern left a number of very dangerous guardians. There was another of those enormous reptilian creatures, tainted by the presence of a dead god’s power, an ooze golem, undead tree monsters with scythes strung on their swaying branches… Fortunately, my comrades are competent and we managed to find our way through relatively unscathed.
We came to a doorway that had red, blue, yellow, and blue-ish white lights that rotated above it. Not sure what this meant, we opened the door and found ourselves face to face with earth elementals and a mandragora swarm. The plant creatures were easily dispatched, and Faern used his clerical abilities to calm the elementals. They were quite happy to talk to us once they were freed from the charms that held them there. Thanks to them, we learned that the different lights signalled which elemental plane the doorway would lead to, and they directed us to the plane of ice where Ranet’s remains were stored.
It didn’t take long for us to come across the largest frost giant that Villius and Hanna had ever seen. It was gargantuan and had flames leaping from its eyes and mouth. It seems this creature was used to house the goddess’ remnants. Ardes ducked through its legs and climbed it’s back while the rest of us kept it distracted. We were unsure if using fire attacks on it was wise since it certainly was feeding the goddess’ power, but we had little other option against this massive foe.
Ardes explained later that there was a series of Suel symbols along the monster’s back that directed him to a weak point on it’s neck. Wasting no time, he use the gauntlets taken from under the Burnt Circle to strike the spot. The creature literally cracked in two as the fiery energy spilled out into a maelstrom. Powerful poison, strong enough to slay a goddess, was spewed in every direction as she freed herself. It seems Ranet was still enraged even centuries later and used her powers to pull her murderer, Pyremius, from the moment before he stole her portfolio of fire. She incinerated him instantly, and in a flash of light we found ourselves outside. As Ranet’s golden gauntlets unbuckled themselves from his arms, we saw that Ardes had the holy symbol of Ranet branded onto the back of both of his hands.
Unsure of how Pyremius’ death might have affected things, we took a moment to consider what might have changed. This, of course, was when I realized something was terribly, terribly wrong with Jack. I had asked Faern to make a set of iron engagement rings — very traditional, I know — with an enchantment that allowed us to know the other person’s physical status and general location. The ring pulsed strangely, and we all agreed that we needed to make haste to wherever he was.
Faern used the ring to transport us all immediately, but we found ourselves trapped in the Sea of Dust. Reason’s Might was in pieces, and the normally efficient pirates and calm clerics of Rao milled about in a daze. Searching for Jack, I ran into Glynis, the bard cartographer, who explained what had happened.
Lianna had finally showed her hand, attacking the ship and teleporting them to an area of the Sea of Dust where no magic, even that of gods, worked. She used Jack’s missing uncle, Donovan, as a shield and snatched Jack from the ship while he hesitated. Except, it wasn’t Jack at all. His first mate, Zegran, had planned for such an event and had, with the help of Chal, the young Olman girl who was a master of disguise, made himself look exactly like Jack.
The ship was heavily damaged, so Idrys decided to… commune with the living wood it was made from, encouraging it to heal. Faern organized the gnome and Raoan engineers to craft a sled to make the ship essentially sail on the sand. The rest of us were taken to see Jack, who was still unconscious from when his friend, Marlais, had knocked him out. Everyone seemed relieved to have us there when he woke. Young Nasim, the cleric of Istus, broke the news.
Predictably, Jack was furious about having been tricked and, though he tried not to show it, greatly fearful of his dear friend’s dire situation. I know he will demand to go with us when we head to Hell to rescue Zegran, however at the moment he’s resting. Poor Donovan is still unconscious as well, having been rescued from Lianna during the chaos of her attack, but we’re hopeful he will recover and might have information that will be useful to us. Glynis, it seems, decided to steal the Crook of Rao out of the bowels of the ship and slipped it into Zegran’s coat before he was taken. No one is sure what might happen with that.
Currently, I’m watching the desert fly by at an astounding rate as the winds whip through the sails, carrying us across the seemingly interminable Sea of Dust. Our Suel compatriots, Ardes, and Kylie, have realized that the magic and items they possess that are purely of Suel origin still seem to function. It’s a curious thing, but heartening since our combat capacities are greatly diminished otherwise. With no way of knowing how far this “null zone” extends, we’ve set out in the direction that Nasim says is the fastest out of the desert.
Hmmm… The lookout is saying they’ve spotted something on the horizon. According to Tulla, it’s the Null Obelisk that the Heroes of the Key came across during their journeys. It seems we’ve headed right into the center of the null zone after all. On the other hand, the Obelisk can apparently be used to create portals to different places and times. Wait. There’s someone next to it? Is that… Celasur?
I’ve got to go. I’ll tell you more when I can!