After climbing a few sets of stairs, we found our way back into the surface of the Necropolis. In the distance we noted spirits moving towards an ancient half ruined temple. Per our instructions, we blindfolded ourselves again, and proceeded for one final time upon the Paths of the Dead
Our stumbling through the rubble strewn city brought us to the stairs of the temple. At the top of the stairs, I called out that I Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius of Erathis sought an audience to propose alliance and information exchange. A sepulchral voice replied that supplication was the more expected request. I added that we also came to bear a request regarding the soul of Terhali. After a few minutes, our request was granted and we were ushered into the presence of an Exarch of the Raven Queen.
Along the way, we were allowed to remove our blindfolds. Around us we beheld a majestic, albeit damage and decaying, temple complex. We were escorted into a preparation room, its only decor being a slab for the receiving of the bodies of the dead. Oli sent back to Oathsworn Command and arranged for Sehan to reverse portal in to join us. Oathsworn Command had no additional instructions for us, other than “Hurry”. We’re supposed to hurry up a divine audience? Such replies sadden me in their indication of desperation and lack of foresight. Fortunately for them, I am an advisor, not an Oathsworn, so was under no compulsion to exercise undue haste.
The Exarch was an impressive being who resembled a larger and more formidable version of the Sorrowsworn guardians who had come against us in the labrynth. In our interview with him, Sehan pressed the case for Terhali, and was reinforced by both Oli and Gareth to such a degree that he agreed to press our case for her return. Furthermore, our unique experiences with the Maelstrom, and the Chains, and the perils which will come against us all, were passed on and given such weight that we were invited to the presence of the resident Aspect of the Raven Queen. A not quite unprecedented, but certainly rare and signal honor.
He conducted us to a large hall which terminated in a set of immense iron gates. The proverbial gates of death made manifest. Spirits passed through intact. We had to teleport. Oli and Lirra were able to accomplish this due to their natures. Gareth used a potion. I transported Guan Yu through, as I would have transported myself and a foe. He barely registered having even been struck. Beyond the gates, the Exarch paused the flow of the spirits, and indicated that we should rise to meet the large and mournfully beautiful winged woman who passed judgement upon the dead.
After some formalities, Gareth offered that she should take the knowledge of what he had experienced directly from his mind. The experience looked quite uncomfortable for him as she seemed to draw upon his life essence in the process. Nevertheless, his gambit was highly successful in that it gave her an instant understanding of the mysteries which we had uncovered and the challenges which faced us all.
There was a great deal of discussion regarding possible courses of action. She agreed to help us, as long as we would bring her people, the Shadar Kai, with us. We agreed to her condition as it seemed more than fair. In exchange, she offered
1. The Shadar Kai would lend military aid to our defense against the Thrymspaker’s forces.
2. She provided an adamantine urn suitable for the trapping of the spark of the Thrymspaker, once it has been enchanted accordingly.
3. She would seek among the worlds for a suitable refuge for our civilian population. Though large migrations are forbidden among primes, our people are not in a prime, they are in the Abyss, and therefore fall into a grey area which may be exploited by the Mistress of all that is grey. Once found she would send the coordinates for it to Gareth.
4. Emissaries of hers would stand ready to warn the gods, and provide immediate update regarding the when and where of the breaking of the chains.
5. She would give what aid she could in moving the parts of Zhia that we sought to save to the refuge.
Sehan spoke again on behalf of Terhali, though somewhat truculently when he learned that his soul did not carry sufficient weight to free hers. He also indicated that Terhali’s mother was Sehanine, which was somewhat surprising, but did little to sway the Queen. The Raven Queen eventually acceded to our request that Terhali be restored to work among us, at the cost of her giving up allegiance or claim of any other gods, save the Raven Queen. Oli, Gareth, snd Sehan objected to this and Gareth proposed a counter bargain that Terhali should instead promise to restore the Red Scales. The Raven Queen agreed to that deal, on the principle that Gareth should also assist in that by giving instruction for half of each year of his life, should he complete his mission and relieve himself from the curse of Torog. Once back in our realm, we should raise Terhali and she would have three days to agree with the terms. We agree to these terms.
In parting, the Raven Queen noted that she had not been so impressed with mortals since the First Emperor. An interesting remark, perhaps Emperor Marcus will have some comment upon it. She also warned us not to try the paths again, for she might not be resident at their end for much longer. Similarly, she could not vouch that any who die hereafter would lie within her power.
The Exarch then conducted us away, down a passage which mysteriously exited in Gloomwrought. We cleaned up some the undead disturbances in the streets before returning to the Stormcrow and thence to Vergence. Once home, we were debriefed by the Emperor himself, who was glad to hear that we had secured tangible divine assistance. We raised Terhali, and she was even more reflective and given over to brooding due to the recent discoveries about her history and obligations.
- Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius