After traversing through planes of existence, and losing out on time, Team BAJA managed the impossible and returned home to the Material Plane. Finally arriving in the twinned city, Lastil-Taswell, the party learn that sinister forces were seeking to undermine the citizens and their way of life. The party had returned just in time for the Emerald Qualifiers, a large festival where magic is celebrated and the exchange of cultures between the elven tree city of Lastil and the denizens of Taswell. The group meets new allies, old friends, and older adversaries; ultimately, the group discover a potential threat from a cult that worships an entity called the Elder Elemental Eye. The party’s investigation grows cold and thus they return to the festivities, hoping more information would surface in time. Instead, several large explosions erupt throughout fairgrounds within the Emerald Square and distant explosions could be heard throughout the city. The cult of the Elder Elemental Eye have sprung their trap and attack, now Team BAJA needs to find a way to quell situation before it escalates.
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As the sound distant explosions rang throughout the city, on the fairgrounds of the Emerald Qualifiers, Team BAJA witnessed a variety of cultists emerging from the ranks of the crowd to cause discord and slaughter. Nearly three to four dozen cultists began rampaging through the crowd, many from audience fled in terror while BAJA and some of the contestants took arms against the insurgents. A display of spell and blade made quick work of several of the cultists, leaving enough room for many of the citizens to flee into safety as the Sapphire Guard made their way to handle the remaining scattered bunch. The sound of conflict echoed further into the city, the group knew they needed to find the masterminds behind everything if they wished for it to stop. Lady Aurelia, along with Lord Galenodel, Blackstaff from the Purple Order, and Dodger arrived at the scene. Each were trying to make sense of the situation, assessing the damage and trying to organize their efforts to quell the revolt.
As the smoke began to clear, Cecil emerged with a tall, cloaked figure behind her. Some of the assembled group stiffened in recognition of the entity behind the blond-haired woman. Timeaus Randor had made an appearance, a true physical appearance for all the behold. The infamous business-owner of Lastil-Taswell, shrouded in secrecy and mystery was willing to make a physical presence to the event. Timeaus informed everyone present that he had time to interrogate a deceased cultist for information and learned that the an assembly of cult leaders were deep below the city in abandoned caves aiming to complete a powerful ritual to summon their Elder Elemental Eye. The group instinctively knew that their worse fears were coming to light, what’s more, there was an eerie similarity to the events in Illinathar years ago. Years ago relative to everyone else, for BAJA it was less than a year ago to them. Aydan recalled the cultist who stole the Animus Gem and sought to open a rift between realms for some greater being to emerge through it. Luckily the group managed to close the portal in the sky and stop whatever entity from extending its influence into the Material Plane. Timeaus warned the group that a similar event is due to happen but could have greater catastrophic results if it should be completed. The shrouded business owner offered his aid to the party and escorted Team BAJA toward his own business center. While many, like Lady Aurelia and Blackstaff would like to learn more about the shadowy businessman, they knew their duty was to organize and tend to the city first. Blackstaff gifted a powerful staff to Arcaelus, promising that it would serve him well for whatever confrontation awaited them. With a heavy heart, the Team separated from their friends and loved ones in what might be the final hour.
The team along with Timeaus and Cecil journeyed toward the Onyx District, avoiding whatever skirmish brought out along the way. Eventually they reached a foreboding alleyway, far from suspecting eyes and reached a dead-end. The businessman began whispering words of power, tracing the wall with his long, thin fingers into the shapes of arcane runes. A magical portal emerged and the two stepped through the breach; the rest of the group followed suit and found themselves in an empty hallway full of doors. Cecil escorted the group while Timeaus went ahead to acquire the items the Team would need to face their adversaries. They arrived in a study, dozens of books were laid along the floor and shelves.
“Why are you helping us?” Rainer demanded.
“It is rather simple, these cultists are bad for business. I seek a solution that would garner the best outcome, unfortunately that means I need to rely on you to do it.” The cloaked businessman replied.
“I know that, but you wouldn’t be doing this for free. What is your end game?” The halfling continued.
“We have a business deal to resolve. One that has been unfinished for sometime now, one you still owe on your end. I had allowed your indiscretion and failings for the various other jobs, but no longer possess any interest in the matter. I am willing to allow you fulfill your end of the contract, and give me what was owed. But the original item I requested is presently bound to another, and while it would take much for me to reconsider its acquisition, I feel that it would better serve you now. So I have allowed you to keep the trinket, but I still desire one of them. So I am giving you the chance to fulfill your end of the contract and I shall easily fulfill my end of the deal.” Timeaus offered.
“I don’t like this at all,” Jimmy interrupted. The half-elf druid spoke for the team, as all of them were suspicious of the mysterious businessman.
“We don’t have a whole lot of options right now, and while I don’t like it. Any help would be useful, especially if it’s for their own mutual benefit,” Arcaelus reminded.
Aydan kept her hand over the Animus Gem, ready to unleash a torrent of arcane power the moment either Timeaus or Cecil assaulted her friends.
The halfling sighed and turned to face the cloaked businessman, “I think it’s time you showed your face. Stop hiding and face me.”
There was a short pause, as Timeaus went to reach for his hood, the soft glimmer of a skeletal hand encased in metal was seen by group. The thought left a chilling anticipation as Timeaus unveiled his face. It was a rather regal face, though slightly wrinkled and thin in appearance. His eyes were cat-like with a reddish hue, there was bits of hair fashioned downward with a large bald spot at the very top.
“So so no ill will, Rainer, I shall give you the list of names you requested regarding that incident. I believe that should cover my end our deal.” The businessman in his empty metallic hand conjured a scroll and handed it to the halfling rogue.
Rainer gently retrieved the scroll and inspected the contents before rolling it up. He looked up to the arcanist defiantly, “so what exactly do you want?”
Timeaus Randor eyed the halfling for a moment, keeping his demeanor civil and cordial. “I simply want one of the Gems of Azuroth, my information suggests that the cultists responsible for everything right now has one in their possession. Currently you have one in your possession, the one I asked you to retrieve several years ago. Instead of taking the one you have, I would ask that you retrieve the one that is currently in the cult’s hands. Retrieve it and return it to me, and I will consider our business arrangement completed. You will be freed from our contract and we can go our separate ways again.”
The halfling considered the arcanist’s words carefully, turning to his friends to quietly discuss their decision. Brightiron was certain that Timeaus would betray them, while Aydan and Arcaelus were under the impression that using the aid would be helpful in the long run. Jimmy simply cared about the well-being of the city but knew as well that Timeaus Randor could easily become a terrifying force with a Gem of Azuroth.
“What sort of assurances do we have that you would not betray us or mis-use the gem’s power?” Jimmy Moon asked the arcanist.
He simply smiled, “none.”
The team looked at each other, time was running out and the longer they delayed, it could spell doom for the city. Rainer gulped and stood ahead of the group toward Timeaus Randor, the businessman stood tall like an unyielding force. “Alright, you will get your gem. So will you help us?”
A wide thin grin stretched across Timeaus’ face, he gestured a table and the books sorted themselves right away. A tray of vials stood before them, the group easily recognized their possible contents.
“I have an assortment of health potions to aid in your impending struggles. Take them. Unfortunately, my magical wares and reserves are being stretched thinly due to the rising rebellion outside and I will need them for my own forces to help regain control of the city.” The aged businessman informed.
“So you’re going to commit your own forces to help with the city’s defenses?” Jimmy Moon inquired.
“Why yes, this is also my place of residence. Many of my workers live here, do you think we would not go and protect their own home? What sort of heartless fiend do you take me for?” Timeaus gestured at the window outside, the group knew that it was magical dimension that once they saw through it, they realized it was a window that viewed many parts of the city at once. “Now, time is running sort. I have long-established a teleportation circle that would lead you all close to the ritual site, it is an abandoned underground cathedral that once belong to several denizens from the Underdark. Fortunately for you, they will not be expecting your arrival so you will have one chance to surprise them and stop the ritual. I would suggest neutralizing the gem they have in their possession.”
The party took the potions and followed Timeaus and Cecil to another room with a large circle etched with runes. Arcaelus instantly recognized the circle’s properties and assured the group it was indeed a teleportation circle.
“You’re not coming with us?” Rainer questioned.
“To cast this spell requires a bit of my personal reserve, I have already wasted some of it simply to acquire the information you have now. Do not think my gesture to be empty, those potions will do you more good than you think. I need to remain here to direct my efforts as well.” With a gesture and an chant of words with power, Team BAJA felt a flash of light and suddenly enveloped in darkness.
Arcaelus emitted light from his necklace and the group saw themselves in underground valley that overlooked a seemingly large stone structure several hundred feet from them. The group surmised that it was the ritual site and traversed to through it in a matter of moments. As they approached closer, the noticed that the tall stone door was cracked open for enough room for them to sneak inside, the sound of chanting and words of power filled the interior chamber. A small stream passed through sanctum to divide the space with a large ten-foot raised platform with a set of steps on either side. At the top of the platform, four oddly dressed individuals each possessing a different colored crystal were pouring their energies into an obsidian gem, one of them they recognized as the Red Sun. The dark gem that hovered between the leaders was most likely a Gem of Azuroth as the evident by the subtle glow from Aydan’s Animus Gem and the Gate Gem in Rainer’s bag.
The group prepared for their assault and unleashed an array of spells and blade at the unsuspecting cultists. Aydan unleashed a shattering sonic blast that break one of the stone guardians while Jimmy Moon went to deal with an array of cultists. Rainer and Brightiron went to handle several water myrmidons, and Arcaelus unleashed a large fireball at the cult leaders at the platform. But a magical barrier protected the leaders and the dark gem that continued to absorb more energy from them. Their surprise did cause some wreckage but it only sparked the renewal to stop Team BAJA, Blackfire emerged onto the battlefield and began assaulting the goliath barbarian with several attacks enveloped in black flames. Invisible creatures pounced on Aydan and Arcaelus, while Jimmy Moon and Rainer went on to deal with the remaining cultists on the floor. One of them transformed into a half-shark like creature while another stone guardian interjected. Things were looking grim, the chanting continued, and bolts of energy would occasionally unleash upon the sanctum floor. The gem continued to glow and eventually a column of black energy poured upward through the stone ceiling and continued to reach out beyond the surface beyond the party’s sight. In that moment, Jimmy Moon’s totem of Lystrata shattered and a great pain took his heart.
The Elder Elemental Eye was coming…
Tune in for Season 3 Episode 1 for the conclusion!
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