Category: RPG

The Conjunction of Planes: Table of Contents


Verdant Kingdoms





That Empty Feeling

Previously, the heroes confronted and defeated Xarrombus, the otherworldly aberration which had been controlling the Steady Hand. When Xarrombus died, so did the people that Xarrombus dominated, including Hamish and the night master. As the heroes were recovering from the fight, the day master arrived to investigate what was going on, and deputised James as the new night master.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in low sanction)

When the day master had departed the Newport vault James opened his bag of thievery and retrieved several bottles of spirits. He handed one out to Astrid, who popped the cork with her teeth, took a strong swig, and then use it to wash Xarrombus’ innards off her face with it. Jan had a harder time accepting the spirits. He fumbled around with one hand trying to open the bottle, having lost his other arm in the battle with Xarrombus. He tried to mimic Astrid, but found that he couldn’t pop the cork with his teeth on account of having lost several of them. James helped him out, unable to bear the fumbling.

Quentin was sitting at Luca’s side, consoling him with his presence as the young warlock was mourning the death of Hamish. Quentin began to sing a melancholic Beaclair ballad, while rhythmically thumping on Ser Fulton’s shield, while Brandomiir harmonised with him by solemnly humming along. Quentin had recovered the shield after Ser Fulton fell in the fight against Atilesceon. To Quentin, the shield became a symbol of those who had died along the way, and the ultimate sacrifice they had made in order to ensure victory.

Jan eventually joined Luca and together they sat in prayer over the body of Hamish. Somewhere in the back of his mind, Luca could not let go of the last intrusive message that Xarrombus sent before its death, about missing the darkness of the void. It resonated with him because of Blackstar, who often mentioned the void. Until now, Luca had taken that to mean the “ultimate unmaking”, rather than a place or a state of being.

All the while, Quentin could not help but feel resentment towards Réonan for unleashing Xarrombus on the world, not shackling it thoroughly enough, and ultimately not taking any responsibility for nullifying the threat Xarrombus posed to the people of Kingsport.

James asked Brandomiir what his plans were, now that the night master had been replaced and he could keep the guild from seeking retribution on him. Brando shared that he had considered going back to his people and laying low for the winter. When James offered him a job, he seemed to be agreeable to the idea, though he considered himself more of a freelancer. Emrys joined the two and together they searched the night master’s body. They found a note and a locked scroll case. The note read:

Dear Jon,

I know we have not spoken in many years, and that we have often operated on opposite sides of the queen’s law. And I know what hurt our family has done to you may never be repaired. But I know that your feelings towards our family never included me, and I’m confident that you know that I was always fond of you and pushed back as much as I was able at that time.

In that spirit I hope you will consider sending whatever aid you can to the Tiverton Glades in order to find out more about the leadership of the horde that terrorises the north.

Your sister,


Under his clothes, next to the medallion that the day master had retrieved from around his neck, the night master wore another medallion, made of onyx and carved in the shape of a raven, displayed. The revelation of the identity of the night master, and his relation to the lady commander of the crownsguard, made the heroes forget all about the locked scroll case they retrieved from his body.

Emrys remarked that it was likely that the medallion that James was given by the day master was the method by which the day and night master could communicate with one another. This prompted James to convince Luca to attune his senses to the presence of powerful magics. Luca, initially reluctant because of the loss of his friend, eventually complied, and after a lengthy ritual, found that besides the night master’s medallion and scroll case, that the library had two more items that were magical.

On one of the book shelves stood a long box, inside of which were half a dozen red candles, approximately a foot in length, covered in strange inscriptions that even Quentin couldn’t read. There was also a book wheel; a piece of furniture which looked like a rotating book case or lectern, designed to allow a person to swiftly peruse up to seven open books at the same time.

After the heroes took a moment to investigate the remaining corridors again, they came to the conclusion that each of the corridors had subtly different decorations and statues. The statues of the celestials were distinctly more martial in the northern corridor, and more pious in the western corridor. The eastern corridor had celestials who were depicted as more studious, while in the southern corridor the celestials were more pensive. A decision was made to follow the western corridor.

Like the northern corridor, the western corridor terminated at a large, tangled mass of thick, calcified vines that were blocking the way. After a couple of hours of applying brute force, they made their way through to the other side, only to find that the room was filled with a pile of religious items of all descriptions.

There were altars carved from wood, stone and ivory; icons sculpted carved and painted; tapestries with heavenly images, images of prophets, martyrs and apocrypha; religious books and testaments; cups, chalices, staves and rods; wooden cabinets with doors which revealed intricate religious triptychs decorated with gold leaf. What surprised the most was how carelessly the items were stored, standing in stark contrast to the meticulous care with which the artwork had been displayed in the gallery to the south.

Among all of that the heroes found two round tablets which were part of the Tablets of the Elemental Eye. They were stored in a large, ironbound chest which had been literally rooted to the spot by calcified tentacles that made up Xarrombus’ appendages.

Quentin searches specifically for any items that related to the Raven Queen and quickly found a black cloak, lined along the cowl and shoulders with black feathers, which he immediately knew to have a religious significance to the Matron of Death. He decided to take it.

The heroes decided that James would hold the two tablets in his bag of thievery, and that Hamish’s body should likely be stored there too, since carrying his body to the surface would likely be too cumbersome.

When the heroes went to the end of the northern corridor they were once again confronted with the calcified tentacles of Xarrombus’ body, blocking the way. This time, Emrys used his magic to animate the tools needed to do most of the work which had been done to the western blockade by the heroes themselves. In short order the tentacles were cleared, and an old armoury, mostly empty, was revealed.

It was surmised that many of the items that may once have been stored in the armoury had likely been sold and the proceeds used to jump start the organisation of the Steady Hand. And yet, there were still a few items of note that could be found, which bore further investigation, most of them weapons of different types. Two unusual items were amount them, a simple, canvas cloak, stained red with blood, and a lacquered box with tattooing equipment.

The heroes had lost all sense of time, but each of them felt tired. Brandomiir and Jan, especially, had been through quite the ordeal even before coming down into the vault, and needed rest. Everyone made themselves as comfortable as they could, down in a cold vault, surrounded by tentacles of a dead aberration, and tried to get some sleep.

Seventh Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waxing)

The heroes were awoken by tremours rumbling through the vault. It was quickly discovered that Xarrombus’ tentacles, running all throughout the complex, had lost some of their integrity and were causing the stir. Shortly after Réonan got in touch with Luca through their ring and asked whether the vault guardian had been defeated, since the teleportation circle had been activated. This prompted the heroes to leave the vault.

Just like the decent into the vault, the ascent was aided by Emrys’ magic. Emrys was one of the last to fly up and carried Jan with him. He heard the man recite the names of the faces displayed on the wall of shaft under his breath. “Raphael, Elohim. Michael, Malakim. Uriel, Seraphim. Gabriel, Cherubim.” When mentioning Uriel, it was undeniable that the man cast a quick, worried glance to Luca, which Emrys caught. Emrys asked whether these were saints in the church of Paladine, and Jan countered that each was an archangel.

When the group had reached the top and found themselves in the round entrance, they were confronted with the same predicament as when they first arrived; there seemingly was no way in our out. Réonan had hinted that besides the teleportation circle, there must be portals in and out, which was corroborated by the coming and subsequent going of the day master. After some time, the heroes found that at the spot of their original arrival, there was a circle of minute lyrium crystals on the wall. Soon after a lock was found, not unlike the ones they had found in the Sunken Vault, but much simpler in structure. Once the lock was found it took no time at all for the heroes to recognise that the medallion of the night master held the key.

A portal opened up and it was unanimously decided that Emrys, with the portal disrupting quality of his bloodline, would enter last. A group of Steady Hand members were waiting on the other side of the portal, prewarned by the day master that the new night master would arrive shortly. They immediately deferred to James’ authority upon seeing the medallion. James took charge of the rogues like a fish took to water, and he ordered them to escort the rest of the group (minus Brandomiir) safely to the surface.

Once the group finally made it topside, they stepped out into empty streets of Kingsport. The sun had just set and the air was still with frost. A blanket of snow had covered the city, and large braziers had been lit to light the streets. Curfew had gone into effect, and the heroes hurried home to the Careless Wanderer.

It felt as if they had been lost in the ancient waterways for a season; leaving at the tail end of autumn and returning in the middle of winter.

Struggle, Survival and Succession

Previously, the heroes had infiltrated the night master’s hideout and followed him, through a portal, into the Newport vault. There they found Xarrombus, the mysterious creature known in Kingsport as the Upright Man, the leader of the Steady Hand.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in low sanction)

The heroes had decided that Xarrombus was a malicious force which formed an existential threat to the safety of the people of Kingsport. Just as they were about to confront Xarrombus, James decided that he wanted to parlay with the alien creature. Uncharacteristically, Quentin vehemently opposed James, claiming that it was too dangerous to allow to remain. And uncharacteristically, James did not press the matter.

And so, the heroes, supported by Jan the custodian, and Brandomiir, marched into the room. Only a few of them had already been able to lay eyes on the grotesque form of Xarrombus, but what they found when carrying some light into the room still shocked them.

To their surprise, the aberrant lords around the room did not pay them any attention and went on with their research, feverishly perusing the books on the shelves. Several people carrying a crown of flesh, including the night master, stood blank faced in the room. Some of them looked as if they had been there for a long time, their bodies emaciated and frail. Some of them were partially embedded in the calcified growth of Xarrombus’ tentacles.

A humongous eyeball was sitting on a bed of hard digits which disappeared in a dark mist which obscured the ground. The vertically slitted pupil, like that of an a lizard, was darting nervously around the room. Half a dozen smaller eyes, about the size of a human head, were floating menacingly in the orbit of the large eye. They had smaller tentacles spilled down at the bottom of the eyeball and they all seemed to be protected by a faintly blue glowing shield of energy.

Once it became clear that the confrontation would not be avoided, Xarrombus erupted a ruinous beam of energy from its great, central eye which struck the heroes, chaining like lightning, jumping from one to the other. The smaller eyes in the monstrous sphere’s orbit sent out their own beams of psychic energy, each having different effects. Each time a floating eye would project their beams their shield would temporarily drop, allowing them to be vulnerable to the attacks of the heroes. Swatting away the smaller eyes was always temporary, since new eyes constantly sprang up from the honeycomb holes in Xarrombus’ tentacles.

Despite the onslaught of damage and confusion Xarrombus caused, its central eye was susceptible to attack. James’ volley of arrows, Emrys’ barrage of telekinetic sorcery, Luca’s rapid eldritch blasts, and Quentin and Astrid’s blades, deft and savage, respectively, soon wounded the eye significantly that Xarrombus changed its attack. The large eye retreated into the bulk of Xarrombus’ body, and the hard digits closed over it, protectively. The ground shook as Xarrombus’ tentacles shifted and it raised its body up over the black mist, revealing a body covered with chitinous plates. Eyes still revealed themselves along the body, but the heroes found it nearly impossible to truly hurt Xarrombus.

Large tentacles burst forth from the ground which had large maws at the end of them. They would batter and bludgeon the heroes and occasionally swallow them whole. Those that were quickly found themselves slowly suffocating and eaten alive, literally, as they moved through Xarrombus’ digestive tract. They found, however, that they had just enough room to manoeuvre and attack from the inside, and Xarrombus seemed very displeased by that, belching and puking up the heroes as soon as possible.

Finally the heroes spotted the light at the end of the tunnel, since the heroes were battered, wounded and frustrated. Luca had lost consciousness. Jan had fought valiantly, until a blast from one of the floating eyes had disintegrated his arm. Brandomiir had spent the early part of the fight in a blind panic, brought on by the mind-altering beams from one of the eyes. For a long while it had not been looking good.

After several heroes had stopped resisting the mawed tentacles and had gone through Xarrombus’ gut, being puked up each time it became too much, Astrid drank a potion that gave her supernatural speed and practically dove into one of the maws. The cumulative damage done to Xarrombus’ insides proved too much, and Astrid carved her way out of the side of the great aberration.

With a last message, Xarrombus claimed that it missed the darkness of the void, and a final psychic ripple went out from it, as it died. That ripple touched the aberrant lords around it, who seized up and dropped out of the air. The people wearing the crowns of flesh dropped to the ground without as much as a sound; including Hamish. And the night master. When the ripple had faded away, the oppressive, psychic intrusion that Xarrombus had been applying on the heroes also faded, leaving them feeling relieved.

When the dust had settled, first aid had been given to those in need, and the reality of the situation set in, a group of people appeared at the entrance to the vault, headed by the day master. Mortified, the day master and his bodyguards walked past Luca, who was grieving over Hamish, and into the room where the body of Xarrombus lay. He was silent as he lay witness to the aftermath. The day master recovered from the shock quickly, and went to search for the night master.

When he found the night master’s body, the burly man knelt down and started rifling through the night master’s clothing. James came to stand beside him with his arms crossed over his chest, and when the day master was done he recovered a simple medallion on a golden chain. It looked faintly like those worn by the magistrates James had seen on his travels.

The day master regarded the medallion and looked remorseful, saying that the night master and he were friends once. He then placed a big hand that held the medallion against James chest. “Take it,” he said, “there is a lot of work to be done.” When James did not immediately take the medallion, the day master dropped it in his folded arms and explained that the only reason the guild had survived all the challenges it had faced was because the upright man was pulling the strings. Without Xarrombus the guild would be weak.

Without another word the day master and his body guards marched out of the library leaving the heroes to deal with the aftermath.

Conjunction of Planes: A Short Introduction


It was August of 2018 when the Conjunction of Planes campaign kicked off, and to date we have played over 100 sessions. During that time, we lost a player, gained a player, went from playing face-to-face to playing online due to a pandemic and because two of our players moved countries.

The campaign is one of heroic fantasy and is set in a homebrewed world, but takes a lot of inspiration from other popular games and media. This hopefully provides a lot of recognisable elements and tropes. There is yet to be developed, which leaves room for collaborative, emergent storytelling and worldbuilding. The goal is to provide a living world sandbox in which the players can engage with any number of storylines, and ignore the ones they are not interested in. The world evolves as the players complete quests, as the players ignore quests, and as the players make decisions during quests.

Character backgrounds are woven into the story, and there is an overarching narrative, which by this point is relatively well established, which the characters get to influence and engage with.

Conjunction of Planes


The story takes place on the continent of the Verdant Kingdoms, primarily in the queendom of Lyria.

After aeons of a low tide of magic, known as the Great Waning, the tide of magic is turning and its potency is swelling. With the increasing flow of magic, the fabric between the material planes of the Ethereal Mist, and the other planes – the outer planes that drift in the Astral Sea and the inner planes that exist in the Elemental Chaos – becomes thin.

The armies that wage the eternal Blood War, those of Order and Chaos, spill over into the material planes. The demonic armies of Chaos seek to devour and destroy anything they can find, while the celestial and infernal armies of Order seek to stop them. The celestials demand obedience, while the infernals seek to recruit through corruption. And the people of the Verdant Kingdoms are caught between these three forces.

When the Blood War comes to the Verdant Kingdoms, it is known as an Age of Fear. The last one was aeons ago, and the next one seems to be coming faster than expected. Whether the continent, and the queendom of Lyria, is ready to fend for itself remains to be seen.

The heroes have discovered that the tide of magic has turned and that the first incursions from beyond are being prepared. They are piecing together information on what can be expected, and how the Verdant Kingdoms survived the previous Age of Fear. The Silver Crusade, a collaboration of knightly orders, guided by the mysterious Senhadrim, was instrumental to the survival of man and the elder races. They left behind knowledge locked away in hidden libraries, and powerful artefacts in secret armouries, and the heroes are trying to secure them before the agents of the opposition do.

The Verdant Kingdoms, in the meantime, seem concerned with politics and commerce, and the heroes are desperate to find a way to galvanise them into preparing for the next Age of Fear. Or better yet, find a way to prevent an Age of Fear by collecting a set of artefacts which will help to restore the Seal of Divine Animus, which protects the planes in the Ethereal Mist from the onslaught of the Astral Sea and Elemental Chaos.

More information can be found here:


Central to the campaign has been a company of characters who have gone from naïve beginners to experienced adventurers. They started out being hired be a local nobleman to investigate a blocked, underground water supply, but have since gone on many adventures. They found a missing wizard, liberated ancient crusaders who were cursed to relive the same defeat over and over again, helped cure the queen of a mysterious ailment by travelling deep into the swamps of Eastmarsh, bargaining with three ancient crones and confronting a dragon. At the time of writing, they are set to confront a mysterious creature, living deep within the ancient waterways of Kingsport, who has been deviously manipulating people and events for a very long time.

In that time the heroes have become known as the Heroes of the White Eye, and the Champions of the Lyrian Throne. These are your adventurers:


A fierce warrior from Hellmark whose goals seem fairly straight forward; she wants to buy a ship. It’s not entirely clear what she will use that ship for, since she doesn’t really talk about her thoughts, feelings or ambitions, and for now her companions have decided to give her the space.


A thoughtful and observant priestess of Sedna, the Lady of Lakes, who grew up in isolation, making her a little world weary, but also taught her how to observe people. Over time, faced with the revelations of the Conjunction, she felt she should return to leading her flock. She has remained a valuable ally to the adventurers.


A young, half-elf sorcerer hailing from a small tribe of aen adhar, or moon elves, in the Riverlands, Emrys grew up in a magi-religious cult. That, coupled with his unpredictable and often tempestuous magic, lead to some incidents that made him escape out into the wide world. He has adopted a frivolous and good natured attitude, and he likes to play music to entertain people.


A young, half-elf who grew up on the streets of Kingsport learning the tricks of the trade from ruffians, pickpockets and con-artists, James had a difficult childhood being raised among whores and ruffians as the bastard son to an immigrant who sold her body for silver stags. Possessing a quick wit and even quicker hands, he brings a sense of practicality and a strong desire to protect the people he cares for.


Coming from a humble beginning as the son of pig farmers, Luca’s been gifted with an incredibly strong intellect which started him off craving knowledge from a really early age. Touched by a mysterious patron who guided the young warlock on his quest for knowledge and understanding, Luca is now coming to terms with the existential horror that the Conjunction will unleash upon the Verdant Kingdoms.


The only member of the group who was born into a noble family, Quentin tends to have a different outlook on things than the others. He can be naïve to the hardships of life, but also have a better understanding of the politics of nobility. He grew up in Beauclair, a neighbouring kingdom to Lyria, and strongly believes in the chivalric virtues. He is trying to find out where he fits in the world.

More information can be found here:


The theme of the campaign is that unity and collaboration, altruism and generosity, friendship and love, win out against the overwhelming existential horror that lays behind the Ethereal Mist. Acts of self-interest – anyone prioritising their benefit over the benefit of another, be that a person, organisation or kingdom – lead to discord, which in turn leads to discontent, which in turn leads to fractured loyalties and corruption. United we stand, divided we fall.


This campaign has been heavily inspired by many things;

  • Nobility and politics: Game of Thrones
  • Cosmology: 3rd and 4th editions of D&D
  • Knightly orders: Dragonlance
  • The three moons and their mechanics: Dragonlance
  • Modernity of cities vs superstition of the countryside: The Witcher
  • The Conjunction of Planes: The Witcher
  • The Blood War: Diablo, D&D, In Nomine, Warhammer

(There are more things that I have taken inspiration from, but these are elements that have not been unveiled yet.)

Etiquette and Expectations

I have drafted a Role-playing Manifesto when we first started this campaign. I think it is still a reasonably accurate document that represents the agreement we made when we started. Having said that, it was something we agreed to while we had already been playing with one another for a long time, and so we had a good understanding on what to expect.

We tend to take our games seriously and we don’t shy away from difficult topics. There is space for levity and comedy, and we try not to over-indulge too much in some of the darker narrative elements that might come up. If there is anything that is off-limits for a player, we expect them to indicate that themselves, and do it in a timely fashion so that we don’t stumble upon something unpleasant. The goal is to enjoy ourselves and engage in collaborative storytelling that is rewarding for everyone.

It is also expected that you develop your character to be a believable character, bound and driven by a consistent internal logic. That character is expected to want things that go beyond kicking down doors, defeating the monster and getting the treasure. And as time goes by, your character is also expected to evolve, learn and understand themselves, their place in the world, and their relationships to the other players, better.

None of these things have to be immediately clear from day one, but leaving it to develop for too long and a character tends to be unmoored, aloof and has a hard time engaging with the world and with others.

The Newport Vault

Previously, the heroes infiltrated the night master’s headquarters, defeated the opposing rogues and aberrant lords, sent the night master to retreat through a portal, and liberated the still unresponsive Hamish. They also managed to free Brandomiir and a custodian named Jan from captivity. Their exit from the headquarters through the ancient waterways was going to be made difficult by an incoming swarm of skaven, so they decided to follow the night master through the portal, only to find themselves in the Newport Vault, where Xarrombus made its home.

Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is in low sanction)

It must have been in the depth of night. Nobody really knew what time it was; all except for Luca, who had the uncanny ability to keep track of time, even when in a dark, cavernous room like the Hall of the Senhadrim of the Newport vault. Everyone was tired, but unsure on whether to take rest or press on.

Quentin took the others aside and away from Hamish, Brando and Jan. He wanted to have a word in private and counted on Astrid to keep the others busy. She did so with a game of Demon Dice. Quentin asked Luca whether it would be possible to use Blackstar to consume the parasite he believed had infested Hamish without harming the young mage. Luca got emotional as he believed Blackstar to be too blunt of an instrument and he cared too much about Hamish to jeopardise him like that.

In the end the decision was made to rest. Luca had made the effort to carry a small tent around the ancient waterways, but he got the last laugh as he pitched a tent, in the Hall of the Senhadrim, for his friend Hamish to rest in. Quentin and Emrys both had a more modest bedroll, and Jan relied on his stoic discipline to get him through the night seated against the round wall. Astrid also didn’t complain. James and Brando stood watch, making sure the group would not be overwhelmed by the slugs crawling up from the deep.

Without the ability to accurately gauge the passage of time, the group rested until they felt ready to move on. Options to heal and bandage up were limited due to not having a healing kit with them, but it allowed they were able to prepare spells and sort their gear. The group shared a simple breakfast as they went over the plan on descending deeper into the vault.

When Emrys cast his spell and bestowed Astrid with the ability of flight, she soared along the tall ceiling of the domed hall. She had only just complained that she “could not hear the Eagle down here” and only minutes later did she hover above the shaft leading down, her gold eyes gleaming as her face briefly took on the features of a large bird of prey.

Astrid carried people down to the different faces that were set into each of the cardinal directions of the shaft’s wall. Each face was slightly different; one handsome, one regal, one with a beard, one bald. There was just enough space on top of the faces for three people to stand comfortably, and so the trip was done in stages. All the while, Jan was marvelling at the enormous sculptures in awe, recognising them for celestial figures in service to the Platinum Father.

As the group descended further down, the pressure on their ears began growing, as if plunging deep under water. It was at that moment that each of the heroes were reminded of a vivid memory of their past.

James remembered being sent out as a rogue apprentice to rob the valuables from a well-guarded mansion. The guild had found out that there was a gap in the mansion’s defences; there was a way into the mansion’s basement, accessible through a flooded corridor in the ancient waterways. He went out with two other apprentices and dove into a nearby public well. The swim was long and deep. One of the two apprentices had to turn back in order not to drown. The other who made it into the basement of the mansion with James unfortunately didn’t make it out with the valuables, instead dying at the blade of one of the house guards.

The memory that came to Luca was that of his time growing up in Hamlet, a small village in the Elder Foothills. A game the children often played in the summer was to see who could swim from one end of the spring to the other. Wyla and Jonah made it, but he was a few years younger than them, and the turbulent water slammed him against the rocks. He was pulled under and blacked out. He woke up with his father standing over him, screaming in his face.

When Quentin was six or seven years old his family made a trip to Sanségal, the capital of his homeland. Before departure, the master of arms of his house had gifted him his first blade; a long poignard. He cherished it, taking it everywhere he went. Including going for a swim on the shores of Lac Sanssouci. There the blade slipped from his belt and it sank to the bottom. He immediately decided to dive after it, but the lake was so deep that his ears were near bursting and he had not reached the bottom yet. He was not able to recover the dagger.

The mounting pressure reminded Emrys of something different than the others; for him it was the first time his erratic magical abilities started to manifest. They came without warning while he was out in the woods, playing with the other Aen Adhar children. He was suddenly seized by headaches and it felt like his head was stuck in a vice. Harmless illusions materialised all around him, and once the episode passed, he felt exhausted.

Astrid’s memory was that of being throw off a ship into the Bay of Teeth, bound by chains, by the people who would usurp her father.

For a brief moment, during the descent, the heroes shared these memories with one another. It was not immediately clear to them why they had suddenly established this psychic connection, nor did they speak about it, but they were left wondering whether their proximity to Xarrombus had something to do with it.

When the group finally reached the bottom, they found themselves on the intersection of four corridors, each leading off to one of the four cardinal directions. The corridors were built in the same style as the rest of the vault, but in many places the walls, floors and ceilings were covered in a biomechanoid material growing in and out of the stone, like roots punching through the floor. These vines had tentacled their way almost everywhere, some of it fresh and soft to the touch, while others were old, thick, and calcified to almost resemble stone. Parts of the fresh vines were covered in holes, all in a neat pattern, like honeycomb. Inside were slimy things gestating and it became clear what the source of the slugs were.

Only one of the four corridors showed some light, which was a relief to all those in the group who were not gifted darkvision at birth. Heading there, they noticed that the corridor was lined with statues of celestial warriors. At the end of the corridor the door opened up into a large, circular room, lined with rows and rows of paintings, each of them in glass cases, framed with wood. The cases were illuminated by tiny, bronze lanterns which emitted no smoke, and were decorated by strings of emeralds, cut in the shape of leaves.

The paintings were all in the theme of divinity, showing angels, saints and prophets. Each of them had been so meticulously displayed as if they were about to go under the hammer at the Landsdowne auction house in Bournemouth.

But the paintings were not the main source of light in the room; that came primarily from the outstretched hands of two, twenty-foot tall, golden statues. Each consisted of the shape of three women, standing back to back in a triangle, there arms thrusted outward and up, their palms to the ceiling. One of the women was an ancient crone, the next a woman in the full bloom of her strength and maturity, and the third was that of a woman who had just matured out of childhood. The flames of one statue were a golden green, while the others were an icy blue.

Luca briefly wondered whether the art had been made by Réonan, and compared it to some of the art he had seen on display at the Circle of Magi. Unfortunately he did not recognise the style to be similar.

After some time had passed, in which the voice of Xarrombus was constantly droning away, undermining the resolve of the heroes and their companions, the group decided to investigate the other corridors. The northern corridor was similar to the one leading to the gallery, but ended up being blocked by a mass of vines thick enough to not just bar the way, but also prevent anyone from peering beyond. Even the little dragonling had no hope of squeezing through. The same turned out to be true for the western corridor.

When the heroes approached the eastern corridor, Emrys, with his keen elven senses, aided greatly by Toruviel, spotted earlier than others what was in the circular room beyond. He saw a great eye, sitting atop a crawling mess of tentacles, surrounded by a black mist reaching to about mid-thigh. Smaller eyes were floating in orbit around the great eye, and it appeared as if several aberrant lords were tending to long shelves, filled with books, librams, manuscripts, scrolls and folios, which were carved into the circular walls.

There were others in the room, including the night master. Most of them were human, some of them seemed frail and emaciated, embedded in the vines that came from the walls and floor. Sometimes, the aberrant lords hovered over to one of them, showing them a manuscript as if consulting with them.

Instinctively, Quentin covered the hood of his lantern, to which James scoffed at the thought that the heroes could keep anything from Xarrombus. This seem to remind the rogue to bind and gag Hamish, which he dutifully did again without protest from the others, even Luca.

The heroes decided to return to the gallery and consider what they’d seen, weigh their options, and come up with a plan. After some deliberation, Emrys suggested he commune with Toruviel. While the blade was more communicative than it has been in the past, it did not immediately present Emrys with something useful. It did not know much about the Newport vault, since they had already transferred themselves into the blade by that point.

Toruviel could identify the two sets of statues as being representations of the winter and summer court that ruled over the Feywild, and it speculated that Xarrombus might have a fascination with the fey and the shadow realms because these are the only alternate realities that are easily accessible from within the Ethereal Mist.

The blade also warned Emrys that when confronting Xarrombus, the heroes might just be facing the aberration and its minions, but potentially the very vault itself. The aberrant overlord could will things into existence, so it was not unthinkable that the very nature of reality could be bent to its will. A sign of this were the occasional eyes that opened up on the vines, as well as a statue of a celestial warrior subtly shift it’s weight from one leg to another.

Emrys asked questions about the vaults, their purpose, and Toruviel shared what the heroes had already learned in the last couple of months; they were meant as a stronghold against invasions from beyond. While the elder races had their own way of surviving the Conjunction of Planes, humans were left to fend for themselves. They constructed fortresses and hid behind walls. It was only when the properties of lyrium were discovered that the playing field was levelled. This reminded the heroes that the precious crystals could aid them in the confrontation to come.

When Emrys shared what he had learned, Quentin turned to regard the two sets of golden statues. He had looked at them, but had not truly regarded them before. He sensed that these statues were not quite good, not quite evil. Neither, and both, all at once. He had a sense that if it came to a route, rallying around the statues, in particular the ones of the summer court, might prove beneficial.

The heroes decided to confront Xarrombus and redistributed some weapons to their companions who did not have any. Quentin shared that he had seen some interesting tactics employed by outlaws in Beauclair that involved lighting a cloth wrapped around the neck of a bottle of strong spirits on fire. James was not willing to part with the collection he kept in his bag, but Brandomiir was given a crossbow with several bolts instead.

And so the heroes returned to the library, where Xarrombus still waited.