The Ascension by Skalgrim Skyfather

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The Ascension 

A report by Skalgrim Skyfather, High Priest of The Wardens

 

This is a report of a great event that we were privileged to both influence and witness, namely the Ascendance of the Good Sphere after a 36 year wait, and the Ascension of Pradot Mar to become an aspect of the Good Sphere.  The report necessarily glosses over the complex discussions around faith and worship, and the many acts of heroism, that took place during five intense days, and presents the matters that occurred in chronological order, to the best of this authors recollection.

Our party gathered at Shadows Rest to meet with Sir Clavados and the Shadowsrise in the early evening of Earth Day, Fools Moon. The party comprised.

  • Lord Quicksilver – party leader
  • Baron Silas von Greenback
  • Lord Khandis Greyspider
  • Delta - Oracle of the Master of Time
  • Drieden - Oracle of the Scholar.
  • Michael 
  • Hak
  • My Lord Wulfric Baneguard
  • Cerridwen 
  • Dayleth 
  • Cirith 
  • Silverheart
  • Lady Rihanna 
  • And I, Skalgrim Skyfather

To achieve the Ascension of the Good sphere we learnt that it was necessary that Good greatly dominated over Evil on the plane – to this effect we needed to move the evil nodes off plane, and ensure the good nodes remained. This was our primary objective.  Our secondary objective was to influence which person ascended to the sphere to become as Aspect of Good – the personality of that individual would then have influence over the plane.  We became aware of three candidates, Sir Ruff – leading his crusade against all evil, Sir Clavados, and Predot Mar of the Saldorians. We spent much time over the course of our mission discussing the merits of these options.

To assist us in this endeavour Shadows Rest had within it a magical Map, that showed the location of all the good and evil nodes, as well as the major forces gathered across the land.  Our observation that evening showed that the Grey Man had absorbed the Node of Lolth and Sir Ruff the Node of Purity. This left five good and four evil nodes available to be claimed (the node of death was believed to be destroyed at this point).

Our Sector Lords confirmed that a letter had been sent out, stating to all that the Valley did not support Sir Ruff’s crusade, and demanding that all Valley members involved return back to their current home location. Those that did not do so were to be exiled and treated as an enemy.

Sir Volminor was confirmed to be a member of the Crusade and hence no longer part of the Valley.

We met with Sir Clavados to discuss the Ascension.  He told us that he would put himself forward as the person to Ascend if that was our wish, and that Pradot Mar of Saldor was the only other credible candidate, if we did not wish Sir Ruff to Ascend.  He instructed us that to Ascend you needed to be the pre-eminent caster of their sphere on the plane (i.e. to absorb the most good nodes), to have sufficient worshipers, and to complete a ritual on conjunction day.

That evening we set out to meet Pradot Mar.  We fought spiders on the way and then met group of Saldorians.  We first chatted with Pradot Krell until Pradot Mar finished his meditations.  Pradot Krell told us he supported a Neutral ascension and he did not appear friendly in manner.  Pradot Mar then arrived, and we discussed his values.  He told us; he believed everyone had a spark of good inside them; that he would ascend if we asked, but that he did not know the requirements; that Pradot Krell would take over Saldor if he ascended, and that he could not guarantee which body his soul would inhabit next, for example Pradot Vey had been reborn as a child (note - Pradot Mar had never met him as was under direct “tutelage and care” from Pradot Krell; that under his leadership Saldor’s anti non-human bigotry had been much reduced; and that he already had enough worshipers as he was a nation leader

We then set out to meet Sir Ruff, but were assailed by a group who attacked on sight of our evil party members calling themselves the “followers of light”. We easily dispatched them.

We then met Sir Ruff and the Adamancer accompanying him, and had a largely convivial discussion. The key points were; Sir Ruff had a number of valley members with him, fortunately all left his Crusade after our discussion and by the order of the Sector Lords; Bill Jingle was present and on leaving renounced his association with Hospitallers and Micheliners; we were not able to sway Sir Ruff from his crusade; Sir Ruff was not fully aware of the reality of the situation (e.g. forgetting he had absorbed a node that day, the Node of Purity); Sir Ruff told us the “followers of light” were not from the Crusade; the Adamancer told us evil nodes would be placed inside the gem he held, to be released when “appropriate”.  This discission reinforced our view that Sir Ruff was not our choice of person to Ascend, though all agreed that the most important thing was for the Good Sphere to Ascend.

We returned to Shadows Rest. Judge Flam and Lady Kiara arrived.   Lady Kiara told us that she was going to claim the Node of War (evil) the next day and take it to the Central Isle to be taken off plane before the Conjunction.  The discussion affirmed our two main aims:

·         To prevent the Ascension of the evil sphere, where the Grey Man was the primary candidate to Ascend.

·         To try to ensure our choice of candidate ascended, though not at the risk of preventing the Good Sphere Ascension.

·         That to do this we needed to gather the evil nodes together to take them off plane/to the Central Isle, and gather as many Good nodes as possible.

We also knew that the Adamancer was trying to destroy the evil nodes, and that this was not a good idea for the long term stability of the land, as it would put all out of Balance.

Lady Kiara explained how it was possible to embody a node.  This involved a ritual comprising casting a ritual level spell into the node, that matched the nature of the node (e.g. commune spells for Knowledge), followed by engagement with the node in some way – for some that might mean casting lots of appropriate power into it, for others it may be a ‘discussion’ of some form.  We learnt that it was only possible to absorb one node per day, but that a person could hold multiple nodes at a time. Lady Kiara also informed us that the Node of Death had not actually been destroyed, and that she had recovered it when the Heights destroyed its housing.  The Node was now safely off plane.

As the night drew to a close we had a lengthy discussion of our choice of candidate to Ascend.  The key discussion points were; could our people survive the loss of Sir Clavados; what would be the impact on Saldor if Prador Mar ascended; which candidate best matched our personal outlooks and beliefs; who would our good sphere casters worship, if any, if they ascended; and could Sir Clavados gather enough worshipers as he was not a nation leader.  We voted on the matter, Sir Clavados won our support from Pradot Mar by six votes to five, with two abstentions.  There were no votes for Sir Ruff.  This was indeed a close decision, and reflected the division in views within our group.  Quicksilvers strong leadership held us to account on this decision, until it was became clear later in our mission that we needed to shift our support to Pradot Mar – more on that later. 

An opportunity then arose to raid the Adamancers field HQ, and a strike force of Quicksilver, Cirith, Drieden and my Lord Wulfric set off and recovered some charged items plus, more importantly, two sets of encoded documents.  The documents were translated that evening. 

The first documents talked about the good and evil nodes, with discussion of their auras and defenses and locations. The nodes were:

Good nodes: Purity, Reason, Battle, Knowledge, Life, Peace

Evil nodes: Death, Ushaz, War, Knowledge, Set, Lloth

The second documents were a dosier on a number of evil individuals and their abilities. Most notable was a report on the Grey Man - leader of the House of the Weaver, the mortal vessel of the Aspect known as Arryon, a minor evil aspect of the Underdark.  Arryon ascended lloth to defeat Velash and the void but in retribution Velash caused everyone to forget him causing his fall from ascendance due to a lack of worshippers. He had created three fixed evil Nexus points using shards of the sword of Life. His main aim was to reascend to the evil sphere.

The documents also contained information on an individual called the Hand of Vengeance who carried an evil artifact of note – now carried by my Lord Wulfric.

Also named and detailed were Dibrille Chide, Wraith, Basil Valentin, Landis Malum (Voice of the Nev’im), Baron Silas von Greenback, Lady Kiara, and Lord Khandis.

Before resting we discussed where to go on the morrow and what to do. We decided to go to occupied valley lands and try to claim the Node of Reason (good) and Node of Ushaz (evil) that was currently inside Wraith.  Sir Clavados agreed to retrieve the Node of Battle (good)

Fireday

Shadows Rest travelled overnight to the area.  Sir Clavados joined us.  He accepted that we had backed him to Ascend, although not with much joy, stating “I will do this if you ask me”.  He also clarified his role in the Valley, stating:

·         The Council of Lords are useful, but the valley is really ruled by 3 pillars.

·         These 3 pillars were originally Sir Clavados, The Dreadlord Arakis, and Lazarus Steel.

·         With Arakis ascending as the aspect of evil, Lensil Blackbone took his place.

·         Lensil would not really able to replace Sir Clavados as a leader.

·         Lazarus Steel planned to leave shortly.

·         Sir Clavados asked who would step up and lead if he Ascended? This was a good question to which we had no easy answer.

At this point the Map showed a few updates; Sir Volminor had arrived in the area and appeared to be heading to the Node of Reason (good); the Grey Man had arrived and appeared to be heading to node of Ushaz (evil); the Adamancer had arrived and appeared to be heading to Wraith; Sir Ruff was headed to either the Node of Knowledge (good) or Battle (good).

We set off swiftly to the Node of Reason which was closest to us. Along the way we encountered a group of Khalid and group of Pentar (accompanied by a hepath), which we defeated.  We also encountered members of the Valley resistance.  They informed us that:

·         The prison camps still existed and would require significant effort to extract around 1000 of our people held there.

·         Aether town was in ruins.

·         In the North West a ghostly image had been reported, but there was no clue what it was, in an area of elemental anomaly.

·         Lord Giles was leading the resistance from the Warrens.

·         There was no trace of the Black School.

We offered to extract these individuals but they wanted to stay and keep up the good work.

We arrived at the Node of Reason to find it guarded by forces of the “followers of light”, from Dalehoven.  In discussion they told us they had all received visions of figure they called the Purifier telling them to guard the node. They would not withdraw so we had to defeat them. Michael began attuning to the node but a strong force from the Heights arrived. After much discussion battle commenced - many of them were slain but some surrendered/were talked down. Michael embodied the Node of Reason within himself.

We left to travel to the evil node. On the way we destroyed a group of hepaths.  Of great personal interest, I also met a planar explorer (Dimitrios Hillgarden) – of the 1st order (of 9) as I recall.  He knew very little of Orin Rakatha, but knew of my home plane Caliban and the significance of my title ‘Skyfather’, as well of the meaning my Lord Wulfrics title of ‘Baneguard’.  I gave him a map of Orin Rakatha to assist him.

We then met group of Heights with a valley member held captive.  We slew them.

We arrived at the evil node to find the Adamancer mid ritual. Despite an immediate charge from our group we were too late to stop him and the accompanying forces of the Heights.  Sir Ruff was not there. A fierce fight followed until the Adamancer left with the node.

We returned to Shadows Rest.  On the way we met a group claiming to be ‘followers of darkness’.  They wanted to support an evil ascension. Many were from off plane – we slew them.

On our return the Map showed an update.  The Grey Man had headed to the Node of peace (good). Lady Kiara had claimed the Node of War (evil). Sir Volminor was no longer on the map (presumed off plane). Sir Ruff had claimed the Node of Battle before Sir Clavados. Strong Dymwan forces were gathering in the Oasis of Souls.

We were visited by Sir Boris (at our request), leader of the Knights of Chastity, and the Administrator, leader of the Heights to discuss the Ascension and whether they would follow Sir Clavados. Sir Boris told us he would not support Sir Clavados, but would support Pradot Mar, but he advised us that Sir Patrick the Lawbringer leader of Vim Legis might support Sir Clavados.  We requested a meeting with Sir Patrick to discuss the matter.

That evening Shadows Rest moved to near the Node of Peace, close to LoX lands.  We travelled to the Node of Peace, encountering a group of Xenos drones, and a force of drow, both of which we defeated.

We arrived at the node in the hours of darkness.  The node exerted its aura such that no combat could happen, but standing at the node was the Grey Man.  He chatted for some time, being particularly interested in those of our group carrying rings – known as the misfits.  Silverheart went to begin the ritual with the Node of Peace but it disappeared into the ground as we felt a rumbling and a powerful creature burst from the earth.  The aura of peace disappeared and fighting began with the creature and accompanying drow forces.  We were overwhelmed and several of us fell, my Lord Wulfric among them.  The Grey Man left.

We returned to Shadows Rest and met with Sir Patrick.  We discussed the matter of the Ascension.  Tellingly, none of the Good sphere priests amongst us, including myself, felt that while they would willingly follow Sir Clavados, they would not worship him.  This proved to be an important distinction. Sir Patrick said he would sleep on the matter and get back to us.  Having had time for this discission and more reflection, it was becoming clear to us that unless Sir Patrick was willing to back Sir Clavados, then we should turn our support to Pradot Mar.  It is evident that, in the matter of worship, these are very personal decisions, taken from the heart. We subsequently learnt that Patrick was not willing to offer his support to Sir Clavados.  This did not surprise us given the way the discussion had gone, and we agreed that we would now offer our support to Pradot Mar.

The Map revealed that the Dymwan forces were heavily pressing the Heights, with Sir Ruff and Adamancer encircled and pinned.  While we were opposed in the matter of who should Ascend, nonetheless it was clear that good must triumph, so Lord Quicksilver sent a message to the Laire Tinwe to request their support in opposing the Dymwan.  

We also observed that; the Node of Set (evil) had disappeared from the map; Circle Aflame forces were mobilising; forces identified as belonging to the Purifier (followers of the light) and the Hand of Vengeance (followers of the darkness) were gathering outside Saldorian lands; and the Grey Man was travelling to (we assumed) the Node of Life (good).

We decided to try and claim the Node of Life on the morrow, moving Shadows Rest overnight.

Steel day

Michael had vision overnight clarifying events with the Node of Peace, learning that the Grey Man had forced it down into the Underdark, sustaining its repression with his own life energy.

Shadows Rest had been deflected somewhat on arrival – very unusual – this turned out to be a powerful wall of thorns surrounding a druids Grove, that we had managed to penetrate. The Map showed a new individual at Lost Gate Woods where previously the Node of Set had been visible. We observed various evil forces gathered around us at the Node of Life, and that Sir Volminor had returned to the plane with reinforcements.

We set off to find the Node of Life.  We encountered a number of groups of tree creatures and natural beasts, then met a druid, while we were constantly opposed by regrowing plant creatures, shambling mounds and wood ghouls. The druid led us to the Node of Life but told us that its defences would repel us, and that we needed to chat with the Hierophant to remove the defences.  Foolishly, in hindsight, we attempted to recover the node anyway, embodied within a tree of life.  Our evil casters suffered a fatal disease if they came within 40 feet of the tree.  There were also plant creatures, shambling mounds and wood ghouls who kept returning, more strongly each time.  We were forced to withdraw.

We then travelled to meet with the Hierophant who provided a truly splendid repast, which we enjoyed in the early afternoon sunshine. After our conversation he agreed to remove the defences, but needed our help as their strength was bound to three enhanced creatures: he would remove one but we needed to do the other two. We slew both creatures, a powerful shambling mound immune to evil and who broke bones with every blow and a lizard creature that could sunder armour.

At this point we could sense that the node was under assault, and we rushed to intervene.  There we found the Adamancer already completing the ritual and taking the node. Despite our frustration we conversed with him.  He told us following: 

·         That he would leave the remaining good nodes to us - knowledge and peace (if we could recover them).

·         That good should not fight good at this time, and we both agreed to no longer fight us in the field.

·         That he would investigate the missing Node of Set

·         That he would travel to the Node of Knowledge (evil) and take it if it was still there

·         That if we were matched for good nodes (3 for 3) then Pradot Mar and Sir Ruff would meet and discuss who should ascend.

We returned to Shadows Rest.

We observed on the Map that the followers of light and followers of darkness were guarding their respective knowledge nodes, each accompanied by some unknown forces. We learnt there was a teleport path between each Node of Knowledge.  We decided to take both Nodes of Knowledge, starting with good as the Grey Man was on his way there.

We arrived at the good Node of Knowledge.  We fought constructs casting good power and regenerating.  We held off an assault from the forces of light. Cirith embodied the node and we teleported to the evil Node of Knowledge.   The Baron went to try to embody the node while we held off an assault from constructs casting evil power.  However we found that the node had already been taken, so we withdrew.

We returned to Shadows Rest.

We met with Pradot Mar to discuss our support of him, and handed him the good Node of Knowledge. He had already received the Node of Reason from Sir Clavados.  

We observed many forces arriving in the vicinity of Lost Gate Woods, the location of the Node of Set.  Intriguingly, all the forces gathered there appeared to be within the Node of Set in some way.  These forces were: the Adamancer, the Grey Man, Circle Aflame, the Prince of Ashes (a new individual), followers of darkness.

We observed that the followers of darkness were transporting an evil node north (we assumed to the Grey Man) and Pradot Mar agreed to try to intercept this.

We decided to travel to Lost Gate Wood to attempt to determine what was going on, and ideally defeat the Grey Man to enable the return of the Node of Peace.

Sun day

Having travelled overnight we arrived at the Lost Gate Woods.  It was clear that there were many hostile forces in the area.  Indeed, we were assaulted before breakfast by Circle Aflame who were held off only through the quick actions of those awake, namely Michael, Lord Quicksilver and the Baron – I arrived just as the fight concluded to find only sleeping or dead enemy. After breakfast we were assaulted within Shadows Rest by a powerful force of Circle Aflame, and we were heavily pressed indeed.

From the Map we observed that the Saldorians had indeed slowed the forces of darkness who were carrying the evil node of knowledge.  In the meantime Michael had sought to learn of more of what was happening at the Node of Set, where so many forces were gathered.  In his visions he had observed people being drawn into something and kept in some kind of stasis – it was clearly a trap of some form, so in what I have come to learn as the true Valley tradition we decided to throw ourselves straight into it.

We reached the Node of Set where we defeated a force of Circle Aflame guarding the node – this was a hard fight indeed as the enemy forces all had poison upon their blades, and none of our good sphere invocations would work around the node itself.  

The Baron began a ritual with the node and drew us in.  From the guardians of the Node within we learnt that:

·         To gain control of the node would need to win a “competition” with the others trapped within.

·         Everyone who was trapped had been given a token.

·         Tokens would draw you to other holders of tokens.

·         Whoever had the most tokens by end of a given time period would win.

·         No connection to the Good sphere was possible within the node – though fortunately it transpired that several members of our group were still able to access the good sphere. I however was not, but was able to call on neutral and evil instead.

·         We were given an item that would give connection to good sphere, but would replace your eye – this was taken first by Silverheart and then Michael.

·         Some of the snake creatures we fought some could only be harmed by repeated castings of neutralise poison.

We set off to gather tokens.  A truly testing set of combats ensured, namely:

·         We met the Grey Man and fought him and his forces from the House of Weaver plus duergar led king Bane Ironmind. We killed all forces except the Grey Man and the deurgar king, they handed over their token and disappeared.  They also told the Baron that there was meeting of “like minded” evil minds that evening and that he was invited.

·         We defeated another group of snake creatures.

·         We met a Circle Aflame priest who had fought the Heights, mended his broken bone and let him go once he gave us information.

·         We met the Adamancer. He gave us his token after telling us that he had tried to fight the Prince of Ashes and had to withdraw having lost most of his retinue. With this token we now had sufficient tokens to win the competition, but we would have to hold off the Prince of Ashes.

·         We defeated more serpent creatures.

·         We met the Prince of Ashes and his retinue. He wore insignia from Thanatos, and told us that he travelled the planes ensuring evil ascensions (leaving behind dust and ashes).  He inflicted an eternal curse on all of us and the battle began.   We were sorely pressed, as all his forces struck magical blows that bypassed armour. But we held, time expired, and we won the challenge.

·         The Prince of Ashes departed and we returned to Shadows Rest

That evening we all went to the meeting of evil folk, which proved to be called by the Grey Man to discuss his Ascension.  Many individuals were present, with representatives of the Khalid, Lancorrin (representing Kevralyn Soulfire), Lady Kiara, Prince of Ashes, Lensil Blackbone, Circle Aflame, King Bane Ironhand, Whisper of the house of the weaver, Kagar high priest of the eye, and Puke Scumgrief, amongst others.

We learnt that many of those present did not support the ascension of evil sphere.  Our main argument was that the Grey Man’s action would weaken the void prison.  We persuaded the Dymwan to withdraw their support for the Grey Man. We learnt that the Prince of Ashes was trapped on this plane by the Grey Man – he had clear enmity to the Grey Man.  My Lord Wulfric showed the presence of mind to secure aid from the Prince of Ashes, which was subsequently used to get him to lift the eternal curse.  

We returned to Shadows Rest where we met with Jalanos and two others of the misfits - ring bearers Dame Layla Mayfield and Roesis.  We leant that we needed to disrupt the three evil Nexus he had created, and that these needed to be assaulted at same time as an assault on the Grey Man himself. It was decided that ring bearers would accompany forces to each nexus.

Southern nexus – Kellorin and Drake

NW nexus – Igor and Dame Layla

NE nexus – Davros and Anatharion

We agreed that the combined assault would begin at noon on Moon day as the evil sphere ascension would need to occur that afternoon (bringing darkness to light).  The good sphere ascension would be in the late evening (bringing light to darkness).

When fighting the Grey Man we would need to use the four rings present in our party in a set order to be able to kill him- first neutrality (Haks ring), then Evil (Michaels ring), then Chaos = magic (Roesis ring), then finally necromany (Rihannas ring). Each ring made him vulnerable to damage from that given source.

Lady Kiara advised us that the Grey Man had now also prevented anyone leaving the plane – which meant that none of the evil nodes could be removed.  It was clear that the only way to prevent an ascension of the evil sphere was to destroy the Grey Man.

Pradot Mar informed us that Pradot Krell had taken the evil Node of Knowledge into his own personal sanctuary and that he could not intervene directly.  He gave us his permission to act as we needed to retrieve this node.  We asked him to wait at the previous location of the Node of Peace, in anticipation of us destroying the Grey Man and the node returning there.

We made our plans for the final day of our mission.  In the morning we would retrieve the evil node from the Saldorians (Pradot Krell).  In the afternoon we would destroy the Grey Man (!).  In the evening we would meet with Sir Ruff and Pradot Mar and the ensure the Ascension of the Good Sphere.

Moon day

We travelled towards Pradot Krell sanctuary.  We met forces of the light being led by the Purifier.  We defeated her forces and finally persuaded her to leave – she set off to consult her leader Ullon Tek.

We met the Saldorian forces of Pradot Krell.  We tried to discuss with them but in the end combat ensued.  We were forced to slay them.

We then met a second Saldorian force. We learnt that Pradot Krell was using the evil Node of Knowledge node to gain information.  The opposed us as they did not believe we needed to remove the node from the plane.  We slew them all, other than their monk leader who yielded to us.

We met and defeated more evil forces (Followers of the dark).  They had a number of blank hosts with them that could contain a number of undead spirits, each time you destroyed the spirit they would rise again with the next – a burial spell from our Humakti proved effective in stopping this from happening.

We found the evil node inside a monk with Pradot Krell communing with it via some form of spirit link.  The Hand of Vengeance was also present. We killed all present and withdrew with the node.

We returned to Shadows Rest and handed over the evil node to lady Kiara.

We observed that attacks had now begun on the three nexus point, and we moved to be close to the Grey Man’s ritual site.

We headed as swiftly as we could for the ritual site, meeting forces of spiders before waves of House of the Weaver assaulted us, preventing us from invoking.  We fought our way through to the ritual area where a fierce fight ensued against the Grey Man and his creatures, duerger and other followers. The ring bearers did their work, and we worked through his defences.  Finally Rihanna embodied all of us who were willing with undead, and we struck the Grey Man down.  All our Good high priests then cast a high level good invocation into the evil ritual site to destroy it.

We returned to Shadows Rest.

The Adamancer sent Lord Quicksilver a gem containing the Node of Ushaz to be taken off plane, which was done, along with all the other evil nodes.  We then travelled with Pradot Mar to meet with Sir Ruff as the time for the Ascension of the Good Sphere drew near. For those of us with connections to the evil sphere, such as myself, lady Kiara severed our connection for a time, as otherwise we risked death as the Good sphere ascended.

Cerridwen led us in song, accompanied by Dame Layla, as we approached the Ascension site.  And when asked by Sir Ruff why he should let Pradot Mar ascend, it was Cerridwens gifted and heartfelt words that persuaded him.  He passed on the good nodes to Cerridwen, and she in turn to Pradot Mar, and he left this realm and before our eyes Ascended to the Good Sphere.  A quiet descended us all, as we reflected on what we had seen.

We returned to Shadows Rest.  There we started a discussion around over where the Valley people should relocate – a decision that will continue on I suspect.

So that ended our mission.  Suffice it so say that it was spiritual journey as well as a hard fought one, and one that I will never forget.  I was fortunate to be given the Grey Mans robes to wear at the end, a powerful momento of a mighty quest.

Skalgrim Skyfather, High Priest of the Wardens.

 

Last Updated on Monday, 06 June 2022 12:13
 
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