The party rested on the far side of the under ground lake before tackling the giant arched door emblazoned with the symbol of Orcus.
After meticulously checking the skull stairs and doorway for traps, the group opened the door and inspected the next chamber to greet them.
On the opposing side of the room stood a menacing stone door. Resting on a stone altar in the center of the room lay a corpse, laying upon its back, mouth open, eyes staring blankly to the ceiling a candle floats above its mouth. The dark flame of the candle cast a strong necrotic glow that eerily illuminated the room
Bryony used her mage hand to snag a parchment from the altar as Cedric had his bear patrol.
The recovered parchment has a riddle and some drawings.
The riddle was as thus:
“I’ve little strength, but mighty powers;
I guard small hovels and great towers.
But if perchance my master leaves,
He must secure me to be at ease.”
The drawings showed a figure with arms outstretched above them within a sunburst. A tear drop is suspended above the sunburst and the figure. In the subsequent drawing, the sunburst and the teardrop are gone the figure remains.
The party attempted to snuff out the candle, but their first attempt succeeded in spawning a team of wights. After putting them down, they did some further investigation and realized they needed to douse the candle in blessed water. Once done, the corpse on the altar expunged the key needed to move out of the room.
Entering a vast cavern resembling the interior of a large decaying chest cavity, the group encountered the eye of Surtr. The eye is what is left of the former demon god before they were slain by Orcus. Orcus left the eye with some of the life force of the deity to have it bear witness for eternity the rule of Orcus as Demon Prince of the Undead.
Surtr however has grown incredibly weary of his sentence and 30,000 + years of imprisonment has left him wanting to simply just fade into nothingness. Part of his price to allow the party to move forward in the Shadowfell is to complete a quest of his need.
His quest, which the party accepted and were marked by the fallen god to complete, lies within the Shadow Realm. There, the Prince has kept the means by which Surtr may pass back into the primordial abyss in which he was spawned. To finally, and truly die.
The group must seek an urn, encrusted with daemonic runes, which holds a portion of his remains reduced to black ash. To release him, the urn must be taken to a hill within the Shadow Realm known to the inhabitants as Dark Howl ridge. From there, the eternal blowing of the winds filled with the screams and wails of damned souls, is the urn to be broken, and his ashes scattered into the turbulent air breaking the curse and allowing his essence to dissipate into the abyss.
The party submitted to being marked by Surtr, the symbol appearing on their neck below their ear as a skull with gaping jaw holding a sunburst.
After the agreement was made, they traversed into the Shadowfell where they met with Arkanis, a grey elf priest of the Ashen Brotherhood. The Ashen Brotherhood is a spiritual sect among the Grey Elves, and to fulfill their rites, they must spend a period of time both in prime plain, the Fey Wild, and the Shadowfell so as to obtain a balance of their existence.
Arkanis explains that the Ashen Brotherhood’s main tenets of its belief structure is to strive for harmony between forces for good and evil in the realms. They believe too much of either force threatens to unbalance the equilibrium that the natural world exerts upon those that inhabit it.
They learned from Arkanis that a ripple of energy was felt by the domain when a powerful artifact was brought into it. The source of this ripple emanates from an area known as the Bleak Hollows. The hollows are a thick forest spreading for miles and hiding untold dangers and secrets. There, Dark Howl ridge resides, overlooking an area aptly named the Canyon of Sorrow, a winding trench of rock and land that is scoured by the Wailing Winds, the very winds the party seeks to cast the ashes.
As the urn, Arkanis relates it would most likely be located in a ruin known as the Temple of Dust in an area called the Shadow Wastes. It is a nexus of ghosts, wraiths, shades, and other unquiet threats comprised of those that refuse, or are unable, to release the shackle’s that bind their spirit here and traverse to the Fugue Plane. The temple is part of a ruined city, its name long forgotten, languishing in a desert of gray sand. It lies to the south and east. Within the Temple lies a strong and ancient force known as the Dust Queen, a collector or rare and beautiful objects so the legend is told.
The party compiles their information and heads southeast to rid themselves of Surtr’s quest.
The reach the protective mountain range of the lost desert city, and the only visible entrance is a semi-circular shaft going up some 2500 ft containing a stairwell and platform.
Finding and manipulating the controls for the lift, they go up about half-way and encounter an issue with the lift causing it to jam. Amareil tethers herself and goes under the lift to clear the jam, almost falling but is caught by her wolf and Cedric.
They complete the ride to the top and find in a nearby ruined shack, containing two rolled up rugs that turn out to be large flying carpets.
Strapping the carpets together, and securing themselves, they take off over the valley of the desert city, spotting the Temple of Dust upon which they land, and prepare to enter.