Last time, our heroes foiled a deadly coup orchestrated by four elemental cults. These cultists are assumingly led astray by an entity referred to as the Elder Elemental Eye. The nefarious businessman, Timeaus Randor, offers his aid to the party via a teleportation circle to a supposed ritual site deep below the foundations of the city of Lastil-Taswell. Time is of the essence, as it’s reported that the cultists are in possession of a powerful artifact to channel magical energy for an arcane ritual. As they arrive, both the Animus and Gate gem glow and react, signaling the presence of another Gem of Azuroth. The group assaulted the unsuspecting cultists, but even with a portion of their enemies decimated, the ritual was completed, and a column of black energy pierced the subterranean ceiling, into the sky and shattered the moon itself.

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Jimmy Moon looked with horror at the shattered totem of Lystrata, unsure of its meaning though he knew that something terrible had happened. The ritual must be stopped, he thought. The druid transformed into a powerful earth elemental and began ransacking through the remaining cultists. The half-man, half-shark creature continued began to whale at Jimmy’s form, but it seemed to be of little consequence.

Rainer darted through the crowd, passing through the magical barrier and striking at the cult leaders within the ritual circle. Two of them stopped concentrating on dealing with the halfling assassin, trading blows and spell. A well-timed wave of sonic energy pushed Rainer back down to the edge of the platform but narrowly avoiding an awkward fall.

Brightiron continued to swing his maul wildly at the various stray cultist but continued his hunt for the mysterious assailant, Blackfire. The dark flame wielding cutthroat eluded the tall goliath barbarian by using the heat of his flames to alter his presence and seemed to flicker in appearance. The warrior grew annoyed and was continually struck by sharp flaming dagger strikes, which only fueled his rage.

Aydan and Arcaelus continued to remain close to the entrance of the underground cathedral, casting spells and providing cover for their friends. All the while, Aydan continued to resist the call of the Animus Gem as she felt the longing between it and the probable gem that was at the center of this profane ritual.

With the ritual completed, the cult leaders began to turn their attention to the team. One shifted into the form of a large boa constrictor and attacked Rainer while another began launching fiery spells at Aydan and Arcaelus in kind. The ritual circle provided some protection against magical assaults, but the influx of energy began to discharge across the chamber damaging friend and foe alike. But after a series of exchanges, the cult leaders took the opportunity to flee through teleportation stones in their possession. Blackfire took a similar cue and departed the battle arena, leaving a frustrated Brightiron.

Rainer tried to use the power of the Gate Gem to pull the source of the ritual out of its fixture in the hopes of interrupting the column of dark energy. After a series of tries, he was successful in using the gem but felt the arcane relic’s psychic pull to gather the other gems. In the halfling’s hands was the blue Gate Gem along with a nearly dark obsidian gem. He felt stronger, faster, the shadows began to cling to him and almost engulf him in whatever foul energy it possessed. Aydan also succumbed to the Animus Gem’s persona and felt the need to bring the current gems together. In this mental space, the two felt the calls of the other wayward Gems of Azuroth across dimensions and realities. They were so far apart yet so close together.

Arcaelus saw the odd change in Aydan and believed that the gems united was far too dangerous for the realm. He grit his teeth and uttered words of power against his friend and ally, Aydan. The succession of spells knocked Aydan unconscious which broke her free from the gems’ influence but the halfling was still entwined. Rainer used the Gate Gem and transported himself next to the unconscious tiefling sorceress. Arcaelus did not know what to do, believing only in the best for Soladis and the world.

Rainer was transfixed, lost in the desire to acquire power to exact revenge against all who wronged him. The voices promised him justice, redemption, and peace. He wanted to kneel down and take the Animus Gem, or was it? A golden bird made of light flew in front of the halfling and transformed into a beautiful maiden of light clothed in gold and white.

The maiden caressed the rogue’s weary face and Rainer was entranced by the spectacle.

“Is this what, those you loved, would wish you for?” A voice echoed in Rainer’s head.

“No,” he replied.

“Let go of that pain in your heart, that shadow that hangs over you. Be free again.”

Rainer shed tears as dark cackling energy lifted from him and the halfling regain a sense of himself once again. The light from the mysterious maiden vanished and the rogue found himself near his friends again though Aydan was still unconscious.  

“Are we good?” Arcaelus inquired.

“Yes, I think so.” Rainer looked at the two gems and felt relieved.

The ritual was stopped and they acquired another Gem of Azuroth, the team breathed a sigh of relief after they awoke Aydan who was rather distraught and upset. Though the entire group grew disheartened when Timeaus Randor appeared near the battered door of the underground citadel. Before words could be uttered, the group was teleported to a vista that overlooked the city of Lastil-Taswell. The distant sounds of fires and cries from the guardsmen trying to quell the uprisings from the cults.

“We have a deal to complete.” Timeaus stood cloaked with his advisor, Cecil nearby.

The team turned to each other for a moment, holding the mysterious obsidian gem in their possession.

“We can still take him,” Brightiron sneered.

“I doubt that, we spent too much our reserves in that last fight. He knows it, we’re at his mercy right now.” Arcaelus observed.

“As much as I don’t like this, Arcaelus is right.” Aydan admitted.

“It’s your deal with him, so I’ll let you decide.” Jimmy Moon conferred.

Rainer sighed and looked at the dark gem in his hand for a minute before handing it over to the powerful businessman and arcanist.

“With that, our deal is complete. Thank you, Rainer. My faith in your capabilities is restored.”

“It’s a powerful gem, it has done terrible things.” Jimmy warned.

“I am aware, but do not fret. I simply need its energy to perform the tasks I need. You should be more concerned with the current state of affairs.” The arcanist pointed upward, the party looked up to see in their shock and disbelief, the moon was shattered. Broken. Jimmy Moon’s heart sank as his legs gave out. Timeaus and Cecil depart, leaving a weary and exhausted Team BAJA. 

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