The Castle at the Edge of the World
The party forces the captive Derhii to take them to their village. The encounter with the Derhii villagers was stressful. Laeoden antagonized the Derhii at every turn. He was also the only one that could talk to them as he was the only one who spoke Azlanti. The Derhii king Heshphant Deg Mattox claimed to know Laeoden. He could not believe that Laeoden could have the audacity to come back to his village again. He was so enraged that he offered the party the option of retracting Thoroc’s challenge and leaving Laeoden as tribute of passage. There was a short debate, but Thoroc decided he would fight Heshphant. The battle between Thoroc and the Derhii King was a titanic clash. In the end the King’s pride destroyed him. He refused to use his ability to fly to defeat Thoroc. Thoroc beheaded the king and placed it upon the throne of skulls. The rest of the tribe was intimidated enough by Thoroc’s victory that none challenged him. There was a feast to celebrate Thoroc’s victory.
The Derhii set them on the path to the forbidden city of Kho. The path took them through the lands of the Umotomo – a human tribe living in the jungle. When the party met the Umotomo they fell upon their knees and began to worship Laeoden. Laeoden asked them to lead the way to their village.
The Umotomo village was a collection of simple mud huts. Set back from the village in a grove of trees is a statue of a 10 foot tall Laeoden. All of the people in the village are young except a single old man with a crutch and long ratty hair and beard. When he pulls the hair and beard back he reveals that he is a much older version of Laeoden. He seems excited that Laeoden is here, and asks if he has been to the city yet. Laeoden tells him that no he hasn’t. While they are talking the tribe begins to make a great deal of noise as a third Laeoden walks out of the Jungle. He has a goatee and is accompanied by an ogre, a beautiful elven sorceress and a dwarf.
The third Laeoden explains that he has been hunting the false Laeodens that are besmirching his good name. He killed a Laeoden in Thuvia that was a cannibal serial killer and a Laeoden in Katapesh who was a slaver. Using a wayfinder compass he tracked this Laeoden here only to discover that there are two Laeoden’s here together.
They decide to go to the grove of the Laeoden statue alone to talk. Laeoden Prime (our Laeoden) asks Old Laeoden what he thinks is going on. Old Laeoden explains that there was a schism. When he went to the city he went off the path and the city’s damaged magics caused his history to shatter and make every likely Laeoden a reality. He was left unable to stray too far from the city trapping him here. If he gets too far away he begins to fade out. What he didn’t know was that he was cast backward in time, and that by meeting himself now he can correct his error. He thinks that if Laeoden Prime goes to the city and stays on the path then the Schism won’t happen and old Laeoden will not be trapped here. Laeoden secunde thinks that’s a terrible idea, because he won’t exist. Viola the sorceress pleads with the group to not do that. She even goes so far as to offer herself to Gaius to convince Laeoden prime to go off the path and save the existence of her Laeoden. He refuses. He theorizes that their histories might instead fuse together and become a single narrative.
Gaius asks old Laeoden what happened to the rest of them. How come they didn’t end up trapped here like him? Old Laeoden says that they died horribly in the quest to reach the forbidden city. He advises Gaius not to look into the light.
The party leaves old Laeoden and Laeoden Secunde in the village of the Umotomo and continue on their quest. They fight a giant snake and then find the first octahedral gate that marks the path to the city. The gate radiates powerful magic and is covered in Azlanti runes for both time, space, adjacent, and travel. Just looking at the gate is difficult as it seems to be constantly shifting in its configuration. They take a deep breath, work up their nerve and step through. They find themselves on the beach of a sea the color of green grass. In the sky there is an extra moon, and the waves move away from the shore rather then toward. Walking is difficult as judging even short distances is hard. They are constantly stumbling. The next gate seems to move closer then away, until finally they reach it and step back into the jungle.
They come to a place where a pit trap crosses the trail. They briefly think about going around it but decide that’s exactly what old Laeoden warned them against. There was a lot of debate about whether they could trust old Laeoden— even by Laeoden himself as he quickly realizes that he would never be able to tell if he was bluffing himself. They decide to jump the pit. All of them leap over easily except Gaius, who doesn’t think he can make it. They throw a rope across to Gaius who ties it around his waist Gaius notices a corpse in the pit that looks like it’s wearing his clothes. Gaius unties the rope. They convince Gaius that he’ll make it. Just in case they lend him a ring of feather fall. He reties the rope and they pull him across. The corpse in the bottom of the pit disappears.
They reach the next gate which is covered in strangler vines. Roni is about to blunder into the killer plant when Thoroc warns him. Roni notices a skeleton dressed in his clothes wrapped up in the vines. They stay back and use ranged weapons to kill the vines. After killing the vines the skeleton disappears.
They pass through the gate into a narrow crevasse of razor sharp amber colored crystal. A brutally hot red sun beats down upon them. The narrow passage is like a tunnel, forcing them to be careful of not touching the sides and cutting themselves. As they are walking the realize the walls of the crevasse are slowly growing toward them. They attempt to move quickly through, but are attacked by three creatures that phase out of the rock walls. Their bodies are formed of the same razor sharp crystals. A desperate battle occurs where Roni is clawed by the creatures and begins to turn to crystal himself. One of the creatures uses it’s body to harness the sun and blind both Roni and Gaius with a blinding flash. Laeoden is infected with the crystal disease when one of the creatures claws him but he manages to fight it off. All the while they fight, the walls of the crevasse close in around them. Due to the heroics of Thoroc all of the party make it through the next portal and back to the jungle. All of them suffer many cuts from both the creatures’ attacks and the razor sharp walls.
They decide to stay where they are and camp, heal their wounds and let Gaius pray for spells to cure his and Roni’s blindness as well as regenerate Laeoden’s and Roni’s lost dexterity.
Oh, and Aether is missing…but nobody went to look for her :(