Just off the coast, there’s this strangely (disconcertingly) perfect, picturesque castle high up on a mountain. A figure in black robes waves to us from the ramparts. We wade to shore and it’s clear we are not on the prime anymore. Off to the right are a cluster of Archons – glowing balls of light – little balls of sunshine really. There is a path to the left that someone must have swept right before we dropped in the water that leads to a forest of sculptured fruit laden trees and a set of stairs leads up the mountain. We head up the stairs and we realize that one of the guards is wearing the gear of the Mercy Killers, which is odd, given how long ago that group split. We are greeted by a man in very sparkly white robes, who addresses him to the Captain (and only the Captain) – offering us welcome to the plane and inquiring if we were there to “improve” ourselves. Because when you are a member of the angelic host, it is difficult to be polite apparently.
We enter the castle foyer where a large “party” of sorts is taking place. Unseen servants are delivering drinks and appetizers. Various groups are chatting. It’s actually easy to tell the locals from the visitors just by observing their behavior. We decide to split into groups to work the rooms to see what we can discover. The Captain, Ef Utan and Lenata decide to ask the various partygoers about missing chronomancers. It’s odd that none of the visitors know anything, but the locals – while denying knowledge – are hiding shock at the question. Fenelyn and I are querying people on the current whereabouts of Secundus – getting much the same reaction. Blank stares from visitors and hidden shock from the locals. When Fenelyn mentions the City of Rempha, the lights in the room get brighter – the members of our group are all simultaneously greeted by glowing 4’ tall books with an angel on the cover – 5th Level Archons – who politely ask “Would you be kind enough to join us in the foyer?”
I mutter to Fenelyn quietly – “seriously, we just got here, and we’re already being escorted out?” He replies that I should be used to it by now. As we enter the foyer we are greeted by an Angel. A full size, actual – winged Angel. In all his blazing glory. The Angel looks us over and then says, “how do you mortals know about Rempha?” The Captain starts to explain that we are on a mission to save the world. [I feel like “save the world” is news to me but put that away for contemplation later.] She tells the Angel that her group has done it once before and that they are trying to find the missing chronomancers and put things right. Fenelyn blurts out “We’re kind of a big deal.” Which gets a fairly puzzled look from the Angel. The Angel looks to Lenata for some clarification. She tells him that we are on a quest for knowledge about the time rifts and searching for lost friends. The Angel takes this in and tells us that he is going to check with his superiors and get back to us. He invites us to accept the castle’s hospitality.
We return to the party and Kenari wanders off to find Wizard Malhevik. I’m apparently lucky to have skipped that meet & greet – because according to Kenari, the man is a basket case. That may have been the nicest thing she said about him. During the evening the group meets, and we exchange notes on what little information we’ve collected. Fenelyn and I have some fairly tiresome conversations with the locals who earnestly explain that it is important that we do a “purification of the soul”. Righteous proselytizers who can only see one narrow path and that in black and white. But apparently this process has the potential to help us ascend up the levels of the Astral. It seems the long way around and not particularly agreeable.
The party ends without much more ado and we spend the night in the castle. Frankly, this place is getting under my skin. Why are the birds chirping tunes and flying in perfect patterns? How clean can a place be? Really? I like a well-swept path but this… And really, it feels like there are eyes everywhere. Nothing we do or say is unnoticed here. Or un-judged. Best to be careful.
At breakfast the next morning we are against summoned by the Angel. We sit outside with him and he starts by talking to Lenata. He mentions her family connection to the area – then goes on to mention multiple coincidences among she and the crew. Hmmm…that’s interesting – apparently Ef Utan is related to this Sapphire Mage they’ve mentioned. The Angel starts to tell us about Secundus. Apparently Secundus fled to the Astral after fleeing Mechanus as a Rogue. Secundus had worked with the Sapphire Mage who was driven insane by the experiments they were conducting about 1200 years ago. Devils (not sure which ones) were interested in Secundus’ work, so he came to the Astral for protection. The Angel tells us that both Secundus and the Sapphire Mage, but their deaths were non-linear – so if find them, we could find them at any point in their timeline.
The Angel concludes by telling us that the auguries were “confused” by us and “they” have decided to help us by sharing some information and help. He snaps his fingers and a sleek grey housecat appears – stalking quietly towards Lenata. “This is Ami.” [Ohhh, Lenata was looking for a familiar – that’s interesting.] With a final warning to be careful “where and how you look for or talk about Rempha” he wings off. Angels. So helpful.
We spend the rest of the day considering our options. The Captain believes we should stay here and continue to search for a way to the 4th level or look for further information. Some of the others are getting a little restless with this location and it’s hard to disagree (the watching). While we are talking, I happen to ask Kenari if she told Wizard Malhevik specifically that Tain had sent us to speak to him? She had not, so we agree to stay one more day so we can have dinner and broach this topic with Malhevik. Fenelyn speaks to the staff and tithes (bribes – let’s be honest) to get us a spot at Malhevik’s table.
At dinner, Fenelyn dances around the topic and Malhevik waxes endlessly poetic about his suffering. Maybe he could start being a better person by shutting up once in a while – but that’s a thought I don’t utter out loud – which is basically the essence of diplomacy right there. In total exasperation, Ef Utan says out loud “why did Tain send us to talk to this guy anyway?” Shockingly, Malhevik shuts up for a moment. He offers to consider our request and asks to meet us in the library after dinner.
In the library, Malhevik confirms that the Captain is in charge of the group. She replies that “inasmuch as someone can be in charge of a group like this, I am.” Malhevik mentions the group’s coincidences again – that Ef Utan is cousin to the Sapphire Mage and that I helped drive a Power from Sigil (wait, why is that coming up? That can’t have anything to do with whatever this group has going on). The Wizard goes on to say that Rempha doesn’t exist in one place – the other part of the city is hidden in the Prime. On Akiton.
At this point, the Wizard stops and says that for this information we will owe him a favor. Fenelyn is quick to ask – one collective favor or a favor from each of us – or only one of us here owes the favor? Apparently, it’s a favor and it’s collective. I’m sure that won’t be a problem. Which I don’t say out loud either – diplomacy again. But this favor owing seems to be pretty common with this group and they accept it in stride.
The Wizard goes on to explain that Akiton is the 4th planet in the Golarian system in the prime. The planet of red deserts and Pyramids. He takes his leave and we sit around trying to discuss what to do. I’m fairly certain at this point that I am going to have to stay with this group as Fenelyn is rather likely to get himself killed and I wonder about getting word back to the Monastery. Although they are rather accustomed to my coming & going.
As we are discussing Akiton, Lenata remembers that she saw this system in a map. And not just in any map, but in a map in the Temple of Celestia in Stray Manor. (Why was this group in my Manor?) We agree we need to get back to Sigil to look at the map so we can pinpoint where in the Prime this system is. As we are talking, I remember lore of Library Monastery of the Enlightened Brihaspati here, in Lunia, led by Ruler Archivist Madhi Pradhamneshti and his five apprentices Shankar, Chandra, Anabali, Ganam and Uttal . The Ruler Archivist’s library is one of the greatest anywhere – and he never leaves his monastery, but the monastery is reputed to have a portal back to Sigil, specifically to the Clerk’s Ward of Sigil, so we decide to go there and request leave to use this portal.
We spend one more night in the castle after asking for directions to the Monastery. Apparently, it is clockwise around the mountain and 3 good deeds away. After breakfast, (ok – the food here is really good) – we head off. We spend the day walking and it is a truly beautiful day. I could use some variety at this point. A shower maybe? A downed tree limb? Anything? We make camp and that is peaceful and quiet too.
The next morning as we are getting ready for the day – we are suddenly attacked by Angel. This makes no sense and frankly – it takes me a moment to react. The Angel appears in front of Fenelyn and drops an anti-magic shield around us. He pulls a sword that lights up in flames. He drives the sword towards Fenelyn – barely missing. The fight rages on – the Captain attacks psionically, Kenari attacked with her claws, Lenata shoots the creature – the creature attacks Kenari and stabs her viciously. Ef Utan pulls out a pair of handcuffs and manages to get them on the wrists of the creature – I then attack it with my fans and am able to disarm it. The sword disappears as it flies through the air. It breaks free of the cuffs and tries to fly off – the Captain hits it with a psionic blast that apparently melted its brain – it drops to the ground dead. As we are searching the corpse for clues about why it attacked us, Fenelyn notices some papers that are pinned to its chest. Fenelyn thinks the papers are some sort of alignment changing magic.
As we are looking at the psionic crystal embedded in the creature’s palm, I have a moment of sheer panic. This tattoo – it’s the Eye of Vecna. Why? Why is the Eye of Vecna tattooed on this creature? What is it doing here, in Lunia, the first level of the heavens?? How does this make any sense? NO. Just NO!
Time is warped – is Vecna back in play? As I’m reading the scraps of paper out loud to everyone, I realize that this is Vecna’s language! Kenari happens to mention that they have the Sapphire Mage’s book (oh, you know – the one that drove him mad) in their possession and that it too is in Vecna’s language!
An almost bodily dissociative panic hits me hard. It’s a struggle to maintain any sense of composure and I pretty much fail. I mention that interference with or use of Vecna’s possessions tends to cause people to go “batshit crazy”. [I’m also now resolved to really keep my eye on Kenari – because I know how this one goes. Who knows how much time she’s spent with that book?]
As I’m struggling to hang on to a semblance of rational thought, someone points out that we just killed in Angel in Lunia. So that’s a problem. Hide it or burn it? Lenata points out that she could cast Dismissal and send this back where it came from – I feel like this may be the least of our problems – but hiding the evidence is a good plan and so is sending this garbage back where it came from because maybe the powers that be should know that we are not to be trifled with. Send an angel to kill us? Really? Just one BAM BITCHES! I DON’T THINK SO!
You sure don’t come up against this kind of shit in low level campaigns. “Eye of Vecna” tattoo???!!! Whatever next?